am 16. September 2001
Die Realität ist nicht das, was sie zu sein scheint, sondern vielschichtig und unsicher. Jeden Augenblick kann eine andere Dimension in unsere einbrechen - so denkt Ormus Cama, der Komponist des berühmten Erdbebenalbums. Doch was die Wirklichkeit zum Schwanken bringt, das ist die Musik von VTO, und mit dieser vor allem die Stimme von Ormus' Gattin Vina... Rushdie - wie seine Protagonisten auch - löst sich vom indischen Boden und betritt das Rampenlicht der großen Rockmusikbühnen. Sogar U2's Bono Vox wurde von "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" zu einen gleichnamigen Song (mit Rushdies Text) inspiriert. Überhaupt, wieder hat der indische Autor das Feld, welches er bearbeitete, genauestens studiert und Bono sein vollendetes Werk zum Lesen gegeben, damit dieser als Kenner der Szene die nötige Kritik anbringen konnte. Was dieser Akribie zu verdanken ist, ist das beste literarische Werk, welches sich mit der modernen Popmusikkultur auseinandersetzt. Hier werden Paraphrasen und Zitate der Beatles neben solche von Rilke und Melville gesetzt. Eine aufregende Mischung, die nicht nur Ormus' Realität zum Beben bringt...
am 27. Juni 2000
Although I have loved other Rushdie novels and admired their complexities, I found this novel disappointing on a number of levels, not least of which is its clumsiness in style. Rushdie here veers from narrative to philosophical exposition, and even polemic, sometimes within the same paragraph. He appears to distance himself not only from his characters but also from his readers. The reader is jarred to no purpose when the narrative, which already switches back and forth in time and location, is interrupted yet again for turgid philosophical ramblings which do nothing to advance the plot and seem to serve primarily to give the illusion of depth to a shallow, too-long story.
At times the author patronizes both the reader and his characters: "Doorman Shetty doesn't know it, but he's echoing Plato. This is what the great philosopher has Phaedrus say in the Symposiums's first speech about love...." Two pages of philosophy follow.
In the conclusion of the book, when it is necessary to tie up the loose ends, the author devotes many pages to "telling about" the action, rather than recreating it and allowing the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. In case we have missed the many parallels he has made between his characters and the classical myths, he summarizes them for us. In the final two chapters, he also shifts the focus, startlingly, to the narrator, rather than keeping it on the two characters who have been the center(s) of the novel. And even on the last page, the author feels it necessary to explain, even providing us with the unifying theme of the book, should we need it: "In my lifetime, the love of Ormus and Vina is as close as I've come to a knowledge of the mythic, the overweening, the divine. Now that they've gone, the high drama's over. What remains is ordinary human life." The delights of this book, and there are many, are so deeply hidden in verbiage and in the exaltation of theme that this reader, at least, got tired of the shrieking and longed for a simple song.
am 13. Mai 2000
I didn't think it would come to this... but I need to rave about this book! Rushdie has captured in his beautiful re-telling of the myth of Orpheus the heartbeat of the post-millenium - a world beside all possible worlds and one waiting to be born, where no 'ground' is 'safe' and yearning and love are the true bookends of life. Distinctions and duelisms are irrelevent in the world of Ormus and Vina and, like life, their story keep cycling back into each other as our real stories continue to flood into one truer fiction that is life - its all here folks! I am haunted by this one and well-worth working through. Easier to 'get into' than 'Midnight's Children' and Rock-n-Roll will never win you a Booker like the birth of post-colonial India... but I feel that when we look back, it be will *this* novel that shows the dissolving of East/West, High/Low culture, and all ideological wars in the face of love (yes... it sounds kitsche...but it is also true!)that he will be known for - maybe not taught in post-grad lit courses... but people will understand this - heck, songs are being written for goodness sake - Art begetting art. And besides... VTO is the coolest fictional band since Spinal Tap bar none! Go... stop working at your dead-end job... order the book now and reflect on things eternal for a change! A no-risk read if ever there was one.
am 7. Juni 2000
On the back cover, one reviewer was quoted as calling this novel "the best thing ever written about rock and roll." So with lofty expectations I purchased it, setting myself up for disappointment. It seems hardly to be about rock and roll at all. It's more about Salman Rushdie rewriting history to fulfill his own perverse fantasies cloaked vaguely in the guise of a rewriting of the myth of Orpheus. The idea of the world's greatest rock band coming from India, the place of Rushdie's origins, is farfetched to begin with. The original song lyrics fall flat without the music to support them. (It's a little too demanding on the reader's imagination in that way.) The overuse of puns and "clever" wordplay begins to feel, I don't know, nerdy?, not to mention annoying. There is also a lot of unnecessary background information thrown in -- like Rushdie is trying to impress the reader with all his knowledge and worldliness. I found it difficult to embrace any of the characters, and found myself mostly unmoved by the story, until the very end with the introduction of the Vina-like Mira character. But by that time it was too late to salvage my feelings of disappointment for the novel as a whole.
am 16. März 2000
Salman Rushdie is a well respected man, and "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" is a magical mystery tour for my generation, a fable reminding us that terra firma is never a solid foundation. Rushdie achieves this performance by covering foundational Greek, Hindu and Zoroastrian myths, especially the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Across the universe of rock 'n' roll bands, DJs, promoters and fans, Rushdie's Ormus Cama is the greatest guitarist ever, and Vina Aspara is his foxey lady who, in the novel's opening pages, is swallowed by a seismic shift that opens the ground beneath her feet, on Valentine's Day 1989--the very day that Iran posted its fatwa against Rushdie. But not fade away.
Rushdie's narrator is Umeed Merchant, known as Rai ('Hope'). Of all his friends and lovers, the greatest are the mythic pair Ormus and Vina. Rai is an earnest loner, a photojournalist who shares with Vina a quick one while Ormus is away. "Photography is my way of understanding the world," he says, worshipping the eye-god of Western culture. Maybe Rai can see for miles, but photography is both reality and perception, another of the novel's fissures. Ormus and Vina are the earth-gods of the Orient, disoriented by Rai's freeze-frames.
Throughout, the shapes of things are isolation. Seeking satisfaction, characters change their names and nationalities, some emigrate, others are disinherited or banished, politicians redraw borders, allies become enemies, and vice versa. The concepts of 'native' and 'relative' are all shook up as the novel portrays a world rocked by shock after seismic shock--to friendship, family, home, love, honor, responsibility, faith, life and death. When the ground opens, Vina is consummated by the earth's inevitable itch to conceive. Maybe castles made of sand fall in the sea eventually but, in a world of good vibrations, all you need is love.
am 1. Februar 2000
it is impossible for me to begin a "review" of the book, The Ground Beneath Her Feet." well, i guess it isn't impossible.
what i mean to say is, this book made my eyes water, my mind enter states of intense restlesness, and my mouth smile so hard it hurt at times, that i am quite often speechless when asked about this novel.
this is by far rushdie's most human book. sure, as some nay-saying people point out, he is *too* clever all over every page times one-hundred. true. that is because he is a clever person, i think. also, the book drags on, goes everywhere without going anywhere, etc., etc.... whatever. there is such intense beauty /hilarity/ originality /reality /fantasy /artistry in so many of the passages in this book, just when your heart/mind/funny-bone gets over the last brilliant passage, the next is upon you. god bless 'em.
if i weren't such an inarticulate neanderathal i would tell you how his epic writing is more than a match for all the widely diverse themes (some of his most poignant critiques of culture), time and space continuums, lunatic minds and worlds encompassed in this book. i would mention that his characters, rai, ormus, vina, are some of the most memorable people i have never met. i would mention how the reader is always at his mercy- when he wants you to feel, you feel- and how, fortunately, rushdie is merciful to those in need of complete satisfaction. too bad i'm not that articulate.
in any case, if you're just a casual reader, there are 1,000 and 1 reasons for you to read this book. if you are one of those intense stay-in- on-the-weekend- to-read-the-latest-from- this-or-that- contemporary-super-duper-intellectual- cutting-edge- blah-blah-blah-author people, then you probably make me look like the ignorant buffoon i am and there are even *more* reasons for you to read The Ground Beneath Her Feet. VTO forever!
am 31. Januar 2000
For the Rushdie fan, there is much in this book to be admired: imagination, brilliant storytelling, an excellent sense of humor and passages of some of the best prose being written in English today. It seems, at times, that Rushdie's inventive capacity is unlimited: the strangest of characters emerge with the most checkered of personal histories, idiosyncrasies and destinies -- so much so that believability is stretched to almost absurd limits. But hasn't this always been Rushdie's domain, ever since Midnight's Children? The difference here, perhaps (and this is why the novel is not a peer of Rushdie's best), is that the author appears to let the absurd, the outlandish, the improbable invade in almost random tentacles throughout the body of the work. Also, the prose is not as consistent as in earlier works -- flashes of brilliance, of genius, are followed by untidy ramblings in need of editing. There is something baffling-joycean about the work, but that is a mode that doesn't really suit Rushdie and his mature voice. He is at his absolute best at times, but the whole structure of the work does not always sustain the narrative. Moreover, you never really feel that Ormus and Vina are truly in love -- the deep love never really happens -- not anything that seems human, at least. Perhaps owing to the rock'n'roll milieu in which the novel transpires, there is more use of gutter language and more casual exposes of sexual acts and fantasies than one would normally encounter in a Rushdie novel. A bit of this kind of language is descriptive, demonstrative; too much of it (and this happens from time to time) impoverishes the overall texture of the novel. Still, Rushdie remains one of the most exciting and engaging writers alive today. I have not yet found a rival in the modern literary world. Let's only hope that his next novel will find the right blend between inventive caprice and the craftsmanship of an undisputed master.
am 18. Dezember 1999
Grandmother stoppered the epic in a glass bottle she kept on the kitchen shelf. At bedtime she would let us taste a drop of that delicious tipple, as a fitting prelude to dreams. Each story had its flavor . We had favorites we asked for again and again. It never struck us, in those small days of childhood that we were being fed fragments in the hope we would one day get the jigsaw whole . Through the years , pieces got lost, were misplaced, went unrecognized . Some stayed ; a cameo romance, the haunting refrain to a song, a ruse, a trick, a betrayal. These were periapts, protection against change. We remembered them to assure ourselves that while the world was changing; protean , bizarre, there was still the safe haven of Once Upon a Time , Long Long ago .... With The Ground Beneath Her Feet, the epic is out of the bottle . It has shot out, unstoppable, and , with every passing page , threatens to blot out the sun and fill the sky. Caught in the revolving door of the beginning which is also the end , we gatecrash the banquet within. Strange faces throng, but mine good host is at hand to hold a mirror to us all. Be seated, then, and let the music begin! What better bard to sing this epic than Salman Rushdie? There are other delights within these covers : literary allusions, sly double entendres, architectural capriccio. Populist punsters , with Bookers to crow about, will sound peurile in the resonance of Rushdie's dazzling plural voice. The Ground Beneath Her Feet is not a good book, it is a great one, and, I'm sure, Salman Rushdie's best writing is yet to come.
am 18. August 1999
Rushdie once again demonstrates his gloriously pompous, non-sensical literary stylings in his latest novel, "..Ground beneath her feet." As in his previous published works, Rushdie bombards the reader with his narcissisticly overwrought vocabulary and phrasings, e.g. Instead of just saying that his parents were not religious, Rushdie gives us - "My parents gave me the gift of irreligion, of growing up without bothering to ask people what gods they held dear.... You may argue that the gift was a poisoned chalice, but even if so, that's a cup from which I'd happily drink again." - whew! This sort of mental masturbation is almost as draining for the reader as it is for the writer. Almost as irritating as the tedious verbosity here is the interminable allusions to rock and roll and western pop-culture. As in all of his writings and in his public interviews, Rushdie seems intent on proving to the world that he is not a typical product of Pakistan or of Islam, but a free thinking spirit of supreme intellect and posessed of a depth of knowledge about western cultural trivia unmatched by even the likes of an American pop icon such as Dennis Miller himself. Rushdie's pathetic attempt at satirizing the rock-and-roll world with his fictionalizing of real-life trivia (e.g. Carly Simon and Guinevere Garfunkle sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (ha ha ha), or Madison Cruiseship sang "White Rabbit", etc.) will please other similarly deluded, middle-aged self-ordained intellectuals who have convinced themselves that they were an integral part of the 60's generation or movement or experience or whatever. With Rushdie's continued display of his collosal ego and utterly humorless satire, one begins to understand the loathing which a large part of the world harbors for this behemoth of vanity.
am 5. August 1999
I am a (relatively) recent convert to the charms of Rushdie's pen. Midnight's childen did nothing for me, as was the case with Jaguars tale, and shame. But ever since that classic that got him in a spot of hot water, I have been an admirer. three books since, each a work of art
So i suppose one dud every decade is quite reasonable. This, i'm afraid, is one of those rare occasions that i found myself reaching for an economics paper rather than turn another page. Not that it does not entertain. His power, nay, his magical mastery, his cunning with the written word is beyond doubt. But this is a book where there is too much information being imparted. It takes on a sort of whine. It seems to be an introspection into the life of the cultural nomad, the self-exiled, the 'you can never go gome again' realisation. Torn between several cultures is the theme that cries out, and while this has been the theme of several of his books, it has lost its freshness simply because he has said it so many way (and so many times) before. But more than that, his longing for bombay, the pain and weight of his nostalgia seem to take over this book. I empathise, Mr Rushdie, but, please, not on my dime. The one thing that struck me about the works of Rushdie in general is the parallel between his work and that of umberto eco. With Eco one leaves the book wondering, how much fiction is there in between the facts. In Rushdie's case one wonders how much fact there is behind the fantasy.