Friday, November 30th, 2012

The "Retrenchments and Narrowings" of Salman Rushdie

Some of his most egregiously uncharitable moments occur when writing about his four marriages….In a close-run contest between Marianne Wiggins (number two) and Padma Lakshmi (number four), it is the latter who emerges as the worst of the spousal bunch. Rushdie presents her as the Marion Davies to his William Randolph Hearst—an erotically beguiling but fundamentally vapid gold digger, whose selfish ambitions as a model, actress, and TV host have, in the end, “nothing to do with the fulfillment of his deepest needs.” The final revelation of her shallowness comes in the wake of September 11 when Rushdie, grieving and shaken and feeling the need to connect with loved ones, calls her in Los Angeles and finds her “doing a lingerie shoot.”

Rushdie’s shuddering hauteur at this moment may strike the reader as a bit rich, coming from a man who spends much of his memoir recalling encounters with pop stars, Playboy bunnies, and “hot” pop-star girlfriends in the breathless style of a young Austen character writing up her first visit to the pump rooms at Bath.

Well, Zoe Heller sure reviewed Salman Rushdie's memoir!

5 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#1,720)

To be fair, it is impossible for a woman to be emotionally complex and also hot. Pick one or the other, skanks!

werewolfbarmitzvah (#16,402)

OOH, this review was like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day. Salman Rushdie is such a self-important dingus.

rural14 (#235,566)

I read the book a few weeks ago; I think Mr Rushdie is not unaware of how pompous he is / insensitive he was and is / foolish about women and wives; but he's rather like his friend Christopher Hitchens – one might vehemently disagree with him, find him awful, find his fiction and other writing florid and too neatly mannered, but underneath, there's a lot going on; there's some thought and a strong point of view, and that makes up for lots of lacking, like Padma Lakshmi etc.

And his ex-wife's novel, John Dollar, is a fantastic piece of writing; dedicated to him I seem to recall; and it does sound as if Marianne Wiggins truly wigged out / to the nuthouse; some of it the pressure of the situation, some of it the pressure of being married to a prat…a prat with mixed ability, but whose work is certainly worth slogging through. Read the book. NYRB not so great 'on the side of history' anyway.

scrooge (#2,697)

I couldn't get more than a couple of chapters into Midnight's Children, too damned precious. The Raj Quartet, on the other hand…

tfey_hawbz (#36)

Zoë Heller is fucking fantastic. Her NYRB takedown of "Vagina" was glorious, too.

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