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Grimus: A Novel (Modern Library Paperbacks) Paperback – September 30, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
When Flapping Eagle, the immortal hero of this fantasy, tires of existence, he travels to Calf Island, home of Grimus, the man who granted him eternal life, and shakes things up a bit. In its 1979 review, PW termed this an "artful first novel. . . . There are a few passages where Rushdie seems to be trying too hard, but in general, after a slow start, the book takes off like Flapping Eagle's namesake."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A fireworks of a book: beautiful, funny, and endlessly surprising.” —Ursula K. Le Guin
“A mixture of science fiction and folktale, past and future, primitive and present-day. . . . Thunderous and touching.” —Financial Times
“Grimus is one of those novels some people will say is too good to be science fiction, even though it contains other universes, dimensional doorways, alien creatures, and more than one madman. . . . A book to be read twice . . . Grimus is science fiction in the best sense of the word. It is literate, it is fun, it is meaningful, and perhaps most important, it pushes the boundaries of the form outward.” —Los Angeles Times
“Ambitious, strikingly confident.” —The Times Literary Supplement
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I was also distracted by the irrelevant sexual content. Much of this read more like the ludicrous fantasies of a teenage boy than the deep character and behaviour development one might expect from Rushdie. The ending is quite ridiculous, more like the ending of a Mills and Boon.
This novel could be taken as something of a parody of post-modern life. The characters are so determined to avoid the truth that they become increasingly and frantically occupied with whatever is at hand. Facing the truth kills them. But Rushdie presents no truth but oblivion, which is embraced happily by the hero. If this is what Rushdie is trying to communicate, it seems no wonder that it is rather uninspiring.
Technically, this is, of course, masterfully written. It is worth reading if only for the skilfully woven storyline and imagery. But if you're looking for something with a positive message, look elsewhere.
I generally love Rushdie and this book enforced that conviction. It involves travel between dimensions, immortality, gorfs, and anagrams. It was fun to rearrange letters to determine that gorfs were like frogs and that there is a cool anagram for dimensions, milky way universe and earth. What anagram does GRIMUS represent?
This book revolves around immortal Axon amerindian "Flapping Eagle" and his desire to age and find a home. Via a con man, he travels through dimensions and universes to arrive at Calf Island washing up behind the rocking chairs of Delores O'Toole and Virgil Jones. She is a grossly ugly petite hunchback and he is an obese lunatic genius. See why I LOVE Rushdie???
The adventure begins when Flapping Eagle and Virgil decide to go up the mountain into the Town of K. It is delicious, complex, thought provoking and keeps you on your toes as you read.
Okay as you can tell this is great book...wonderful descriptions, incredible insights, and complex characters. Oh did I mention that there is whore house in the town of K?
Themes include the price of mortality and definitions of morality. What makes a good person a good soul? What should Flapping Eagle do when he arrives at the top of the mountain and faces Grimus? (Trust me that is a crucial theme that is deeper than what I stated)
That being said, this book is certainly fantastical, though the language is crafted in such a way that it didn't exactly strike me as sci-fi until I read reviews on the back of the book describing it as such. I didn't have much trouble accepting the absurd qualities of the worlds (or dimensions) that Rushdie had created, but others might. Then again, you might be all for that, but have a harder time with the more philosophical aspects of the novel, as some of Rushdie's characters have the propensity to soliloquize about fairly weighty concepts. This was probably my least favorite element to the novel, as these explorations tended to cause the story to come to a grinding halt. They happened frequently enough that the novel winds up with an uneven pacing, which can make it a struggle to get through at times, but ultimately I'm glad I stuck with it and enjoyed reading it. It's a great book to discuss and has a lot of big ideas, so despite its slim size, it's definitely not a light read. Comparisons to "Alice and Wonderland" are quite apt. If you'd like something that's a bit unconventional and are fine with a slightly challenging read, then I'd recommend giving this a shot.