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I m going to review this book without actually talking about it, though I don t think it really matters I read a lot, though I also write a lot I write short stories, poetry and essays I write reviews every day to practice writing and to capture my thoughts on certain topics I even have a 1st draft of a fantasy novel that is some weird hybrid of Avatar and A Game of Thrones that I wrote when I was nineteen It s garbage, full of clich s and driven by a lack of imagination My point is, I read to write and I am always trying to get better I am mainly a critic, though the I read the creative ideas I get Somewhere around half way through Joseph Anton I stopped reading and I started writing, really writing There was a line in the text that stood out to me I have lost in since, though Rushdie emphasised the use of personal experience combined with representations of the contemporary in order to create successful fiction fiction that is relevant and driven by real human emotion I found myself agreeing and began pouring my thoughts into a notepad.I don t know what will become of my writing I may grow board and never finish I may reach the end and burn it out of disgust or I may actually start to edit it and go from there What I am trying to say with this review, is that hearing the literary experience of another writer inspired me to start taking things a little seriously I have been less active on here for the last few months because I have been busy I am now writing a novel again, for the first time in five years What will be will be. As you are fighting a battle that may cost you your life, is the thing for which you are fighting worth loosing your life for p 285 So why is it that I feel I have to defend liking this book Almost all reviews I ve read from New York Times to Goodreads have been rather negative, attacking and blaming Rushdie So I will just come right out and say that I really liked this book Yes, he namedrops on every page Yes, he of course paints a mostly positive picture of himself but who wouldn t Yes he knows his own worth and uses this opportunity to settle a few scores But still, I enjoyed every page of this and read and read and read.This of course is the story of the famous fatwa On February 14th, 1989, Rushdie receives a phone call, informing him that Ayatollah Khomeini has sentenced him to death because of his novel, The Satanic Verses This book details then his life for the next 12 years, trying to live as normal as possible while being under constant police protection, moving from house to house, relying on the kindness of his friends, driving bulletproof cars and trying to survive, both mentally and physically.He writes about his private life, his childhood, his years in school, his marriages, his children, his attempt to be a father in these most extraordinary circumstances He constantly struggles against people both official people and the public believing he doesn t deserve to be protected because he has brought this on himself He doesn t agree with this and neither do I A leader of a state does not have to right to condemn the citizen of another state to death So Rushdie struggles with Government officials, ministers and the leaders of his protection service to get them to continue to protect him and to allow him to live as free a life as possible so he can be a father, be a man and a writer, and do the publicity necessary to promote his books.A strange thing with this book is that even though it is a memoir, it is written in the third person Rushdie never writes I but writes he, even when writing about his own thoughts I actually really liked this because for me, it felt like Rushdie was standing outside his life, looking in, trying to make sense of what happened to him For me, it worked He is also juggling with various identities through this there s Salman, the private man his friends knows there s Rushdie, the hated man, the demonstrators are renouncing on the streets and there s Joseph Anton, his alias, created out of the names of his two favorite writers, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov So in some ways, it must be hard to see these years living like this, split into three, as his life instead of someone else s life, a fictional life.The book really shows what kind of man he is Intelligent, well read, knowledgeable about both the classics and modern pop culture JK Rowling, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Super Mario, various sci fi etc He writes about his process when writing books, about getting ideas and using things from his real life experience in his books And he writes about all his books in a way which makes me want to read them And I love that while he shares all the famous writers, actors, politicians etc he meets, he also writes about how proud he is to complete his Super Mario game and how he thinks Birkenstocks is the uncoolest footwear, except for Crocs p 342 I really enjoyed how he shows his humor throughout the book even though he battles depression throughout these years, living with a constant death sentence over his head Who shall have control over the story Who has, who should have, the power not only to tell the stories within which, we all lived, but also to say in what manner those stories may be told For everyone lived by and inside stories, the so called grand narratives The nation was a story, and the family was another, and religion was a third As a creative artist he knew that the only answer to the question was Everyone and anyone has, or should have that power p 360 Of particular interest to me, was of course the times he mentioned Denmark and the Danish reaction to the fatwa Overall, it seems his Danish publisher wasn t afraid and not only published the paperback which was a big deal but also compared the risk of publishing it to crossing the street It is sobering to read about how hard it was for him to get the paperback published in UK and US because if that paperback hadn t come out, his attackers would have won.When I began reading this novel, I had to come to terms with something I was 12 years old when the fatwa was issued and I don t remember anything about it from back then But I ve always believed that he was in the right to publish that book and that no one had the right to attack him for that But at the same time, I was against the so called Danish Cartoons , the caricatures of Muhammad posted by Jyllands Posten back in 2005 Of course I didn t want anyone attacking Kurt Westergaard, one of the drawers, but I didn t like the idea of these drawings Now, how could I reconcile supporting Rushdie and believing him to be in the right while not supporting these drawings I thought about that for a while and for me, the answer is, that Jyllands Posten did it intentionally to cause a disturbance while Rushdie didn t set out to do anything but write a novel Whether you agree or disagree with someone, they should always be allowed to talk, to say their mind You have to use words to defeat words, not guns or bombs or knives.In Denmark, we have just had another case of a journalist known for criticizing Islam being attacked and attempted assassinated Now I disagree with this man but you can t go around shooting at people you disagree with But what this shows is that Rushdie s case is still current We still have to fight for freedom of speech Rushdie survived the fatwa and lived to see it being put to rest He views his case as a prologue to all that happened after 9 11 and even though we all should have become wiser, we haven t really Unfortunately The value of art lies in the love it engenders, not the hatred It is love that makes books last p 316 I couldn t get through The Satanic Verses I found it unreadable in spite of my immense curiosity for the book But I picked up this book with great interest to see what Rushdie went through and how he coped with the aftermath of that infamous fatwa This book is probably twice larger than it should be, and methinks it s commensurate with Rushdie s ego To read the account of this struggle from Rushdie himself is be annoyed by the man He comes from a Muslim background I found his knowledge of Islam and its history and its thinkers and classical Persian literature quite impressive He knew what he was doing, and he did it Fine But then he goes around acting like he s owed support and solidarity from every person and every government and every organization and every publisher He doesn t care that a lot of people had to go through a lot of risk and danger because of that book He s on the right side of the argument, dammit, and everyone should stand by him He s even written this memoir in third person, as if talking about some great hero standing up to the evil He was accused by a lot of people of being ungrateful and egotistical This book doesn t help much to dispel those accusations Lots of self righteous anger and vengeful score settling with publishers, journalists, friends, ex wives, security personnel, politicians, etc He does his best, but at the end he still comes off as self centered He can t help it.Rushdie is a fine writer, but I like him less as a person after reading his memoir. I was pondering the reviews of this book on Goodreads the other day, as I was almost finished and just wondering what other people think A lot of people seem to find Rushdie coming across as arrogant or pompous This is something I totally disagree with and in fact I think one of the issues he actually covers in this book As the media saw and treated him as arrogant for quite a long time To me he honestly doesn t come across as arrogant Something else people were critical about is the way the book is written in third person I thought this strange at the beginning But looking back, after finishing the book, I think it might have helped him through writing the memoir It gives him the opportunity to take a step back from his life and look at it from a bird eye view So for me it actually felt like quite an interesting way to write your auto biography.I actually started reading the book to help me with an essay on Midnight s Children I didn t finish before I finished the essay, but I just got so pulled into Rushdie s story that I couldn t put it own after finishing the essay Also I find it very difficult to leave a book unfinished After Midnight s Children this was obviously very different, but there are definitely similarities in writing style I found the whole book very compelling and it reads very smoothly When reading Rushdie I just want to write down quotes all the time He comes up with some of the most beautiful sentences paragraphs Sometimes I just have to read one sentence over and over again because it s so beautiful.I have to say I think I ve become a fan I don t think many of my study buddies will agree with me, but I like Mr Rushdie, I really do In the first few chapters, I was a bit surprised at the gossipy, somewhat catty tone, and figured it would be chatty and light and fun, but alas petty grievances aired, endless names dropped, revenge exacted for real or perceived insults of either the author s conduct or writing, ex wives trashed The treatment of these unfortunate women is surprisingly childish he sounded like a preteen talking about how victimized he was by Padma Lakshmi and his second wife He also reveals himself to be something of a misogynist when he details how crazy yet another ex wife is All personal responsibility is absolved when he says he felt guilty about treating someone badly, or that they manipulated him into it And maybe by writing a memoir in the third person But most disappointing of all is the way the author speaks of religion He was obviously tremendously wronged by the fatwa, but the views he expressed here sounded recidivist and strikingly intolerant He lumps together Islamic fundamentalists and most other Muslims, possibly offering a brief and unmemorable disclaimer He also condemns individuals for practicing religion of any kind but Islam most resoundingly I saw him at readings several times, and he was engaging and well spoken I also love his work, so all in all, this is a very sad view into someone who comes across as talented author making a fool of himself pursuing celebrity during a cliched midlife crisis I was somewhat bewildered by his shift into pop culture over recent years, but didn t really pay much attention, so this was somewhat jarring.Going to be hard to expunge the memory of this sufficiently to continue to read or re read and enjoy his work Those of you who love him and find it hard to appreciate literary work of those who irk you you know who you are , beware. It took a commitment to finish this book but I was pleased to have done it Rushdie s manner is sometimes arrogant and seemingly self involved but he is wonderfully talented and unafraid to let the reader judge him He analyzes his circumstances and his own thinking and he challenges his reader to understand Salmon s predicament His story of threat and exile should not be lost as it is significant to our future freedom of speech and artistic expression, our quality of life and even our survival Rushdie s tell all provides insight into societal fears, courage and cowardice of leaders, instability and unreliability of media, and the importance of personal involvement in maintaining our civil rights I was impressed that Rushdie did not hide his personal foibles, anger, infidelity, and self centered behavior as he recounted his talents, connections, and successes. I don t even know what to think about this thing About the first half is really great even written in the Bob Dole ish autobiographical third person gripping, suspenseful, detailed But the book just dies about halfway through he starts eliding weeks, months and years, and then disastrously starts flashing forward at the same time as if he thinks he s writing a late Lost episode near the very end he calls attention to his Dickensian, let s tie up the loose strings seat in the future which is obviously 2011, when he s writing the book, except its action ends pretty much in 2001 so it just becomes really hard to tell what s even happening when And he turns terribly sexist, shallow and obsessed with celebrities to boot You would think, since his own ordeal essentially was as he calls it prologue to the changed world after 9 11, and this memoir was written not only at the ten year anniversary of that event but also after both the Arab Spring and a resurgence of protests, these chronological markers would help him organize his thoughts or at least his narrative somewhat, even if only emotionally But no, we wind up hearing a lot about Bono and Hitchens and Padma Oh, do we ever hear about Padma Eight years of relationship are compressed into an insultingly small number of pages, and yet the second hand embarrassment dare I say, shame I felt on reading his vengeful invective dragged out the subjective mental reading time horribly It s obvious he feels people got sick of his story even while it was still happening to him, his family, his friends and protectors , and that it s been told and retold so many times in such distorted ways that this fancy ass attempt at depicting himself unstuck in time is how he s trying to make it new And, possibly, describe the great disconnected swathe of time in his life when he was really not himself But the best parts of the book are when he simply and directly presents his own emotions When he writes about literature, his thoughts aren t that novel and at times teeter on cliche but are given force and power by his actual lived experience when he writes about politics it s just disastrous Usually when a book is this thin it s because the author s tried to write it too quickly after the actual events but he s had ten years since the willed happy ending, when his protection is removed by mutual consent and he hails a cab, and it s hard to think any time would deepen his reflections Perhaps the unintentional point is that some experiences are so huge and shattering you don t ever really move on past them, digest them, contain them When people go nuts or get addicted or suffer some other near unendurable trauma of the spirit, what they, and their families and loved ones, always want is my old life back I want him back I want her back I want what we had But you don t get to go back if you re lucky, you get to go forward, but it s really not at all the same thing Just go read this review, it s great Just remember And William Styron s genitalia are unexpectedly on display one convivial evening at Martha s Vineyard. &Read ⇶ Joseph Anton: A Memoir ↸ On 14 February 1989, Valentine s Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been sentenced to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini For the first time he heard the word fatwa His crime To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran.So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team He was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by He thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names then it came to him Conrad and Chekhov Joseph Anton.How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for over nine years How does he go on working How does he fall in and out of love How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers and of how he regained his freedom.It is a book of exceptional frankness and honesty, compelling, provocative, moving, and of vital importance Because what happened to Salman Rushdie was the first act of a drama that is still unfolding somewhere in the world every day. Update 9 21 12 now that I m reading this it s kind of tedious I don t think Rushdie s 3rd person affectation works well at all It made me remember, I don t actually like Rushdie s writing all that much Gave up on The Satanic Verses after 20 pages I guess I got caught up in his life story and forgot about his qualities as a writer which is ironic cos it s precisely the condition he so deplores, his literary qualities getting eclipsed by his status as a current event I think his crazy life does merit a biography I just wish someone else had written this A disinterested third party would have been useful cos as it stands this book comes across as a lot of score settling, vindictive gossiping and not being above it alling Looking forward to this, especially after reading his essay that just came out in the New Yorker The Disappeared How the fatwa changed a writer s lifeIt really bugs me that religious nuts can incite people to murder over a cartoon, a book or a YouTube movie I want to live in a world where you can draw Mohammed without getting threatened with death I mean what century are we living in I m glad Rushdie hasn t given up the fight. Joseph Anton is the pseudonym Salman Rushdie had to adopt for security reasons during the decade or so he spent in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa on him after the publication of The Satanic Verses, which Khomeini deemed to be blasphemous This memoir deals primarily with Rushdie s life during this period of hiding but also touches upon his life before and after this time.Rushdie makes the interesting choice to write this memoir in the third person and there are many times in the book where it feels like he is telling a tale of somebody s life other than his own Rushdie claims he did this in order to maintain a degree of separation during the writing process, without which he would have been unable to tackle such a daunting project Whatever the reason, I found it leant the book a rather disjointed feeling at times I even felt like the events described in this way took on an almost fairy tale like aspect, as though they couldn t possibly be real I think what I m trying to say is that this third person narrative approach actually bestowed upon this book a feeling of inauthenticity that I m sure Rushdie did not intend.This is a shame, as this is without a shadow of a doubt a memoir that needed to be written Rushdie s plight was a very significant event both personally and politically and his story needed to be told I can only imagine what it must be like to have to go into hiding for such an extended period of time to be constantly in fear of not only one s own life but the lives of all your family and friends as well.Rushdie tells his story warts and all, never shying away from retelling events which show him in an unfavourable light To be fair, he doesn t hesitate to show others in a bad light either and some of the verbal attacks on him by other authors, some of whom are favourites of mine, were upsetting to read I was particularly upset by how Roald Dahl treated Rushdie it jarred with my probably rose tinted view of this much beloved author.Still, for all its faults and discomforts, I m glad I read this book It makes for upsetting reading at times but I feel like I m better for having walked a mile in Rushdie s shoes.