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The Satanic Verses: A Novel (Bestselling Backlist)

The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie I'd been meaning to read the Satanic Bible for a long time now, and now that I've finally gotten around to it... I kid. This book isn't the Satanic anything, but it is strange. At times while reading it I'd try to imagine how Rushdie came up with it. I can't. His life, his thought process are so foreign to me as to be almost other-worldly. I've never read anything like it. It's magical realism, but it really has little in common with the Latin American variety of the genre. The plot is fairly straightforward, but it is intertwined with so many strange dreams, transformations, sub-plots, backgrounds and most oddly, detailed religious and pseudo-religious events, rites, superstitions and metaphors that it is hard to imagine it all coming from the mind of one man. Every time I looked, i could see, or imagine I saw, symbolism, metaphor, literary allusions and philosophy. It felt like a book that I could read over and over without ever finishing it. In a way, it's strange. I can't tell if it is a work of genius that isn't as acclaimed as it deserves, or if it's the ramblings of a man who is at least a little deranged. It eludes easy categorization. Woven into a very real and contemporary story of two men's experiences with emigration to England is their parallel experience of possible conversion in to an arch-angel, complete with halo, and a devil, complete with horns and cloven hooves. Sometimes their supernatural transformations are almost absent from the story. There are the expected clash of cultures, family drama, relationships begun and ended and at times, the story feels normal. Then there are long dream chapters of villagers led by a teenaged girl clothed in butterflies on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The arch-angel blazing down pedestrians with fiery breath of righteous indignation. The giant goat-devil who becomes physically and culturally larger than life, both outgrowing his attic home and sparking a popular movement. The juxtaposition is both jarring and enchanting. It makes it easy to get pulled into the story, despite being unfamiliar with almost everything in it and its non-negligable length.A couple examples of the writing:...now whenever a trunk was opened, a batch of wings would fly out of it like Pandora's imps, changing colour as they rose; there were butterflies under the closed lids of the thunderboxes in the toilets of Peristan, and inside every wardrobe, and between the pages of books. When you awoke you found the butterflies sleeping on your cheeks.And:He stands motionless while small groups of residents rush past in different directions. Some (not all) are carrying weapons. Clubs, bottles, knives. All of the groups contain white youngsters as well as black. He raises his trumpet to his lips and begins to play. Little buds of flame spring up on the concrete, fuelled by the discarded heaps of possessions and dreams. There is a little, rotting pile of envy: it burns greenly in the night. The fires are every colour of the rainbow, and not all of them need fuel. He blows the little fire-flowers out of his horn and they dance upon the concrete, needing neither combustible materials nor roots. Here, a pink one! There, what would be nice?, I know: a silver rose. And now the buds are blossoming into bushes, they are climbing like creepers up the sides of the towers, they reach out towards their neighbours, forming hedges of multicoloured flame. It is like watching a luminous garden, its growth accelerated many thousands of times, a garden blossoming, flourishing, becoming overgrown, tangled, becoming impenetrable, a garden of dense intertwined chimeras, rivalling in its own incandescent fashion the thornwood that sprang up around the palace of the sleeping beauty in another fairy-tale, long ago.I don't know where it came from and I'm sure there was a lot I missed, but it is a story that will be rolling around my head for a long time to come.