Matt's Reviews > Fury

Fury by Salman Rushdie
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Mar 05, 11

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Read in March, 2011

The book's first sentence sets the stage for what's to follow: "Professor Malik Solanka, retired historian of ideas, irascible dollmaker, and since his recent 55th birthday celibate and solitary by his own (much criticized) choice, in his silvered years found himself living in a golden age."

The next 260 pages serve to explain many of these words. Malik the irascible, easily driven to fury by the materialist soullessness that he sees in the golden age, encapsulated by New York City at the turn of the century. He's aging but still playing with dolls, creating alternate realities to escape from his past and the anger he attempts to keep caged within. He can't resist temptation, of being overwhelmed at the beginning of a relationship, but quickly fears of just being whelmed, and retreats back to his dolls until he can overcome the fury inside. Until, two women, in succession, help him overcome.

It's tough to summarize Rushdie, but that was my quick attempt. If you like Rushdie, you'll like this book, and I like Rushdie. I also like magical realism, but felt its use in Fury was a bit overwrought at times. I also like riffs and rants, especially about media-obsessed mile-a-minute escapist culture, but there are two sides to this coin. I'm also not sure whey he had to make Neela so ridiculously beautiful, stressed over and over again by men tripping over themselves and running into walls when she's around. I understand he's making a point about our beauty-obsessed culture, but I think it's more about Rushdie, I mean Malik, picturing himself with these women. Thus, I didn't "really" like it.

Some scathing, sardonic, sweet samples...

"There was a satisfying anonymity in the crowds, an absence of intrusion. Nobody here was interested in his mysteries. Everyone was here to lose themselves. Such was the unarticulated magic of the masses..." (p. 7)

"she was bright, lively, and like all of us believed herself to be an acceptable person, even, perhaps, a good one." (p.25)

"Solanka felt as if he had suddenly aged by 20 or 30 years; as if, divorced from the best work of his youthful enthusiasms, he at last stood face-to-face with ruthless Time. Waterford-Wadja had spoken of such a feeling at Addenbrooke's years ago. 'Life becomes very, I don't know, finite. You realize you don't have anything, you belong nowhere, you're just using things for a while. The inanimate world laughs at you: you'll be going soon, but it will be staying on. Not very profound, Solly, it's Pooh Bear philosophy, I know, but it rips you to pieces all the same.'" (p.103)

"... hill walking was what he liked to do to get rid of his people overdoses..." (p.113)

"There is that within us, he was being forced to concede, which is capricious and for which the language of explanation is inappropriate. We are made of shadow as well as light, of heat as well as dust. Naturalism, the philosophy of the visible, cannot capture us, for we exceed. We fear this in ourselves, our boundary-breaking, rule-disproving, shape-shifting, transgressive, trespassing shadow-self, the true ghost in our machine. Not in the afterlife, or in any improbably immortal sphere, but here on earth the spirit escapes the chains of what we know ourselves to be. It may rise in wrath, inflamed by its captivity, and lay reason's world to waste." (p.128)

"'You know how to generate love, Malik,' his wife told him. 'You just don't know what to do with it once it's there.'"

"The speed of contemporary life, thought Malik Solanka, outstripped the heart's ability to respond." (p.228)

"Violent action is unclear to most of those who get caught up in it. Experience is fragmentary; cause and effect, why and how, are torn apart. Only sequence exists. First this then that. And afterwards, for those who survive, a lifetime of trying to understand." (p.252)

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