26 April, 2013

Quotable Friday (8)

I love reading quotations. Whether they’re funny, wise or poignant, I love those snapshots into the human mind; I love the beauty of language. There aren’t always easy ways to crowbar great passages from novels or thoughtful quotations into ordinary blog posts, so on Fridays I’m letting them speak for themselves.

This week I'm going to quote from a book I'm still reading - Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie. I'd read a couple of Rushdie's books in the past and, although the language is amazingly beautiful, I never really got on with them. I found them very hard work to read. My husband describes reading his books as "you get to the end of a sentence having no idea what it means, but you get to the end of a chapter knowing what's happened". I think that's a good description.

Luka and the Fire of Life is the sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories and they are something completely different because they're children's books. You get all the genius of Salman Rushdie's way with words, with none of the obscurity. They contain a simply marvellous world of stories and magic, the Mists of Time, glumfish, mechanical telepathic hoopoe birds and P2C2Es (processes too complicated to explain). Only taking two or three hours to read, they are funny and an absolute joy. Here's a sample for you...

" In general, however, the two brothers, Haroun and Luka, rarely quarrelled and, in fact, got on unusually well. An eighteen-year age gap had turned out to be a good place to dump most of the problems that can sometimes crop up between brothers, all those little irritation that make the older brother accidentally knock the kid's head against a stone wall or put a pillow over his sleeping face by mistake, or persuade the younger brother that it's a good idea to fill the big fellow's shoes with sweet, sticky mango pickle, or to call the big guy's new girlfriend by a different girlfriend's name and then pretend it was just a slip of the tongue. So none of that happened. [...] Luka uncomplicatedly adored his older brother, and thought he looked like a big bear - a bit like Dog the bear, in fact - or perhaps, like a comfortable stubbly mountain with a wide grin near the top."

7 comments:

  1. I've never read any Rushdie books. Didn't know he had kids book. Interesting. I'll have to go see if I can find any at the library.

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    1. I think he wrote Haroun... to cheer up his son after he started receiving death threats following th publication of The Satanic Verses. Such a joy to read!

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  2. I've only encountered his work once before and he sculpts the language beautifully.

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    1. Doesn't he just? I was thinking of you as I read today actually, as Luka and the Fire of Life contains a lot about myths and a lot of puns - I think you'd like it! (I also thought of you with the last book I read - Dune by Frank Herbert.)

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  3. Even though it's not Friday, I've come across a short quotation for you as I was fliiping through The Country Diaries, an enjoyable anthology of extracts from, well, country diaries - most very old, but some modern ones. This is from September 1803, the diary of William Holland of Somerset, :

    "Dined on a Michaelmas Goose, Mrs Southcombe did not join us, an apple fell on her head in the orchard which discomposed her much."

    Poor old Mrs S!

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    1. Brilliant. It reminds me a bit of the language that Mrs. Beeton used. I am going to use the word discomposed as an understatement as much as possible!

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  4. It's a good word, though perhaps not quite as good as discombobulated.

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