Publisher: Jonathan Cape

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman

Posted April 10, 2017 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 2 Comments

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David GrossmanTitle: A Horse Walks into a Bar (Goodreads)
Author: David Grossman
Translator: Jessica Cohen
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2016
Pages: 208
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

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When the Man Booker International longlist was announced for the year, I logged into my library and searched to see which books I could reserve. Sadly they only had five of the longlist, which included one I had already read, War and Turpentine. David Grossman’s A Horse Walks into a Bar was one of the books available. Having now read this novel, I do not think any book has left me as emotionally perplexed as Horse Walks into a Bar.

The novel is set in a small Israeli town comedy club where the audience gather for a night of laughter. Instead they witness a comedian coming apart on stage. This is such an emotionally charged novel and one that must have been difficult to write. I went into the book interested in the techniques used to write a stand up show into a novel and I wanted to see how Grossman would handle this meltdown. Humour is so subjective and I felt myself groaning at the attempts made by this comedian. Obviously this is not the type of comedian I would go see perform.

I do wish I knew more about Israeli culture than I do, because I think there was so much I could have gotten from the novel and I feel like some of it just went over my head. There was so much to be gained and having never read David Grossman before I do not think this was the right starting point. The breakdown was such a tough piece of writing to pull off and I often felt like it was not being handled correctly. Having said that, writing a novel around one stand-up performance would have given the novel many restrictions.

This was such a difficult book to read, mainly because I felt so emotionally drained from reading it. I could not read more than twenty or thirty pages before I need a break from the experience. I think David Grossman is a brilliant writer even if this is not a book for me. I am curious to read more Grossman, I have often heard great things but never sure where to start. While I did not enjoy the experience of reading A Horse Walks into a Bar, I cannot stop thinking about it. This is the type of novel that would make for a great stage performance.

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy

Posted November 26, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Fiction / 0 Comments

Satin Island by Tom McCarthyTitle: Satin Island (Goodreads)
Author: Tom McCarthy
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2015
Pages: 173
Genres: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Tom McCarthy has a unique approach to fiction; Satin Island is an avant-garde novel that explores the philosophical implications of corporate anthropology. A career path that I never thought existed but makes a lot of sense if corporations were using anthropologist for an extra edge. Rather than researching people for science, a corporate anthropologist would try to predict best possible scenarios to leak bad news, or which marketing strategies would have the biggest impact on the public.

Satin Island was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and it sounded very different to the other novels. I knew I had to check it out and see what it was all about; the back of the book gave nothing away. This is a post-modern novel and I am actually surprised to see it also making the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker. Normally the novels that are vastly different and experimental never make it past the longlist. Making the shortlist might mean that more people will pick up Satin Island and that can only be a good thing.

The protagonist for this novel is U. and it is pretty obvious that Tom McCarthy expects you to see yourself from this point of view. The book has no real plot or character development, leaving the reader to focus on the moral and social implications of corporate manipulation. The concept of a corporate anthropologist can be both fascinating and terrifying and McCarthy wants people to be aware of this fact.

For a book that is 173 pages long, this is in no way a short novel. The depth and complexity found in Satin Island would keep you thinking about the book for a while. I really appreciated what Tom McCarthy did in this book, it really opened my eyes to so many issues. Now that I am aware of the concept of corporate anthropology, I cannot help but see the way it could be used in marketing. Satin Island is experimental and if you are willing to try an avant-garde novel, it is well worth your time and effort.

The Green Road by Anne Enright

Posted November 11, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 0 Comments

The Green Road by Anne EnrightTitle: The Green Road (Goodreads)
Author: Anne Enright
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2015
Pages: 312
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

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Rosaleen Madigan is the matriarch of the Madigan family of County Clare. The Green Road tells the story of this Irish family, from the perspectives of the four children. Each section is dedicated to one child’s perspective from different times of their lives. A unique narrative style, which I believe Anne Enright adopted in her novel The Gathering which won the Man Booker Prize in 2007.

The Green Road explores small fragments of the Madigan family, which can be frustrating for some people but I really enjoyed. I like dipping in and out of this family and their drama. Anna Enright does not make a clear narrative, and leaves a lot to the reader to try and connect the dots. Different readers will make different assumptions from this novel which makes it an interesting book club pick. In fact this was a book club pick for my in-real-life book club.

The novel is emotionally charged and jammed packed full of drama, manipulation and bleak moments which brings together really rich characters and an interesting story. I found Rosaleen to be my favourite character, she is manipulative for what she considers good reasons; all she wants to do is keep the family together. However each section is years apart and we witness this family start out close but slowly drift into strangers.

Anne Enright considers herself a short story writer and it really shows in The Green Road. Each section is tightly compacted and work like little short stories from the same family. Although to read one story and put it down and come back to the next would be a mistake. This book requires the reader to work at making connections and drawing conclusions but I think that is what makes this novel stand out to me. I loved dipping in and out with the Madigan family and just experience the fragments of their lives.

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

Posted May 16, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 2 Comments

The Zone of Interest by Martin AmisTitle: The Zone of Interest (Goodreads)
Author: Martin Amis
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Angelus Thomsen is an officer working at Auschwitz; on August 1942 he gains his first sight of Hannah Doll, the wife of the camp’s commandant. After a few encounters, their relationship becomes more intimate. Despite their attempts to be discreet, Hannah’s husband Paul becomes suspicious. He threatens a Jewish Sonderkommando into killing his wife. However things are not that simple and life is far more complex.

The Zone of Interest is Martin Amis’ fourteenth novel and the second to focus on the holocaust (his 1991 novel Time’s Arrow being the other). The novel is told from prospective of three narrators; Angelus Thomsen, Paul Doll and Szmul the Sonderkommando. This allows Amis to explore the three different sides of this budding romance and betrayal, however what it does not talk about is far more interesting. Thomsen and Doll are so focused on Hannah, while Szmul is unwillingly dragged into this complex situation.

I found the plot to be a bit flat and the ending of this novel anti-climactic but it was Martin Amis was not saying that really stuck out to me. The way Amis told the story allowed the reader focus on the melodrama of this love triangle but we have to remember this was set in Auschwitz. We can explore the indifference towards human suffering and the prisoner’s general psychology without the need to talk too much about this situation. Szmul’s narrative does focus more on the life in the concentration camp from a Jewish point-of-view but it is the Germans’ lack of interest that stuck with me. The more I think about this novel, the more I admire the way Amis wrote this book. I cannot think of another novel that explores an issue like this by actively trying to avoid the topic.

At the time of reading this book, I found this novel to be average. However, it was the post-reading experience that really stuck with me, and I really appreciate the satirical approach Martin Amis took. I am determined to try some more of his works; I need to find out if he uses satire consistently in his novels. I would love to know which novel I should check out next from Martin Amis.

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh

Posted June 8, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 10 Comments

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine WelshTitle: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins (Goodreads)
Author: Irvine Welsh
Narrator: Lorelei King, Penelope Rawlins
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2014
Pages: 480
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Audiobook

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Irvine Welsh has always been an author that I have wanted to read, but he always seemed to sit on the backburner. I have Trainspotting on my bookshelf and I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually. His new novel The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins seemed like just the right amount of filth and bizarreness for me at the time. The novel kicks off questioning American’s obsession with numbers, from statistics, ratings, western culture seems to measure everything with numbers. From crime rates, percentages to economical values to shoe and breast sizes; everything is about numbers.  This sets up the protagonist, personal trainer Lucy Brennan, who obsessively records everything, from her calories, her exercise and every aspect of her life, as well as those she trains.

Set in the image obsessed Miami, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins tells the story of Lucy who heroically disarms a gunman who was chasing down two homeless men. This was witnessed and recorded by the sole eyewitness, Lena Sorensen. Lucy’s act of heroism transforms her into an insta-celeb with national exposure, giving her the break she has been looking for. Lena becomes obsessed with Lucy and signs up as one of her clients. The two find themselves getting closer, too close for comfort.

I officially believe that all personal trainers are sadists; however Lucy takes this to a whole new level. She goes from strict personal trainer to scary crazy in the efforts to get Lena into shape. Reading this novel reminds me never to get a trainer; I don’t think I can handle the efforts one might go to, to get me into shape. I won’t go into details; the whole concept of fitness and eating healthy within this novel is worth exploring without any spoilers.

In an interesting twist, it turns out that the two frightened men Lucy saves from the angry gunman turned out to be paedophiles. The media focus quickly shifts from heroine to whether she should have stopped a victim of sex abuse from getting his revenge. Would she have acted differently if she knew the reason? It is no longer  a story about bravery and heroics but one of pain and vengeance.

I read this novel as a caper that quickly spiralled out of control. Irvine Welsh was able to produce very unique acerbic characters, all vastly different from each other, with their own little quirks and flaws. Lucy a militant personal trainer, we get to watch her stardom rise and fall and Lena an avant-garde sculptor who is a shy talent with a dark side that comes through mainly in her art.

I get the impression that Welsh likes to explore the darker side of humanity. While I tend to enjoy transgressive fiction I was finding some issues within this novel that I will try to explain. Irvine Welsh doesn’t hold back; Lucy Brennan is a hard hitting, foul-mouthed, aggressive woman; an anti-hero that I can’t help wondering if she is realistic. She claims to be a feminist but comes across almost like a misogynist, rather than just an angry bitch. I increasingly began to see her less as a female protagonist and more as Welsh’s fantasy of the ideal woman. His own masculinity seems to come through in this character and she comes across as a slutty bi-sexual that has the libido and personality of a teenage boy. That is not to say that there aren’t women like that out in the world; for me, her personality never rung true.

I was never sure how to take Lucy; she started off as a strong willed, fitness freak with no social filter and a mouth and sex drive that is unmatched. These people obviously do exist in the world and I tried to take her seriously but as the novel went on it become harder and harder to suspend my disbelief. She became less of a character in the novel and more the voice that satirizes Irvine Welsh’s own soapbox views.

Lean Sorensen is far more interesting; she comes across as timid but talented artist but she doesn’t see that. She views herself the same way the world does, as just a pathetic overweight woman. Whether it is the manipulative ex-boyfriend, the passive aggressive parents or the fake friends of the art world, she is depicted as a broken woman trying to get her life together. I enjoyed the darkness that came through under the perky and cheerful facade that she tries to put on; it really rounded out the character. She kept my interest throughout the novel.

The title The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins is an interesting topic as it refers to a subplot about the media frenzy around two conjoined teens, Annabel and Amy. Annabel is considering losing her virginity to her boyfriend but Amy is not too keen on this idea. A conversation about the twins and their sex lives is a reoccurring conversation/argument between Lucy and Lena. They have differing views about sex and the conjoined twins and often the focus of their personality clash.

I have to mention the morning pages program that mentioned throughout this novel. It is a program where you must write three pages in a stream of consciousness format every morning. The idea of this program is to help identify issues that need extra attention while trying to achieve their goal, in this example weight loss. Morning pages interested me because it was the concept that inspired a site I’ve been using to develop a good writing habit.

In the pursuit for perfection, things get dark and twisted; The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins explores this very topic. A novel of depravity, revenge, sex and crime, Welsh gives the reader plenty to think about and if you can suspend your disbelief when it comes to Lucy, this book really is extremely rewarding. Be warned there is a lot of swearing and sex, not for the sweet and innocent. The sex has a voyeuristic approach to it, not erotic at all and often disturbing. In the end, this novel was a rewarding endeavour into transgressive fiction but I need something sweet to read next.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Posted January 23, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 0 Comments

The Paris Wife by Paula McLainTitle: The Paris Wife (Goodreads)
Author: Paula McLain
Published: Virago, 2011
Pages: 392
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

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Forget everything you know about Ernest Hemingway because Paula McLain has set out to change that in The Paris Wife. This stunning novel follows a fictionalised account of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson. McLain’s version of Hemingway starts off as a tender man, with a crush on an older woman; he is persistent and full of love; nothing like what I know of the man.

The Paris Wife begins in the Chicago in 1920; it is here we meet Hadley and Ernest. Slowly we watch the two fell in love and get married. Soon after they have relocated to Paris where they meet other expatriate authors, such as James Joyce, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The love shared between Hadley and Ernest is nothing short of beautiful, while it lasted.

If you know much about Ernest Hemingway, you know this whirlwind romance wasn’t going to last, I’m not spoiling anything by mentioning this. In fact it is mentioned on the back of the book. What I found most interesting about The Paris Wife is the way it is written in a first person perspective. My calculations from the clues in the book, is that Hadley was narrating this account at least thirty-four years after her divorce from Hemingway.

This presents a unique perspective of Ernest Hemingway, the pain and suffering would have been mostly gone and we get a distorted opinion of this famous author. Paula McLain’s masterfully presented Hemingway in such a way that I began to re-evaluate my personal opinion of the man. He was depicted as loving and caring, a struggling author with big dreams but also suffering from the torments of war. This eventually all came crashing down and my opinions where back to how I originally felt about this author; it takes some talent to be able to pull that kind of writing off.

This is the kind of novel you take to Paris. The atmosphere of 1920’s Paris was stunning, I could picture it and I wanted to go back to France and enjoy this city all over again. Unfortunately I don’t live in the world of Midnight in Paris, so I will have to stick with the modern city. Mentions of Shakespeare and Company were particularly special for me as I have very fond memoirs of that wonderful bookstore.

Fictionalised accounts are tricky and should always be taken with a giant grain of salt but I was happy to see Ms McLain ended this book with a note about her research including sources for her research. While this doesn’t mean I’m going to take the entire story as true, it does provide me with some reassurances that the author intended to keep as close to the facts as possible. This meant that at times the novel did feel more like a biography but the story was compelling enough to keep the book enjoyable.

One thing that bothered me after reading some reviews about this book is the people who hated this book because of the ‘unlikeable character’ when referring to Hemingway. I’ve always thought of the author as an unlikeable person (the man was a dick). What I was impressed with is the fact that Paula McLain managed to alter my opinion and try to look at things from another perspective. He was self-destructive and often came across as a man with no remorse but seeing his downward spiral on the page is what made this journey interesting.

I read this book for Jazz Age January; it was a good excuse to pick up The Paris Wife. I did in fact enjoy the novel but not in the sense that I would recommend it, I just think it was an interesting journey and look at Ernest Hemingway. There were flaws in the novel but you have to respect the way McLean worked the reader. I knew the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway had a falling out but now I suspect it was a case of them siding with Hadley during the break up. I will have to research some more to know for sure.

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Posted January 18, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene HanffTitle: 84 Charing Cross Road (Goodreads)
Author: Helene Hanff
Published: Virago, 1970
Pages: 230
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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84 Charing Cross Road documents twenty-year of correspondences between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. Helene was an American writer while Frank the chief buyer of Marks & Co, an antiquarian bookseller located at the eponymous address in London, England. Starting out as a request for obscure classics, the book follows the blossoming relationship with Helene and the people of Marks & Co. Followed by The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, a collection of diary entries of Helene’s trip to England and the tour of bookshops.

Helene noticed an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature and first contacted the shop in 1949. This started a beautiful love story found in this book, not between Helene and Frank but rather a love of books. This is the type of book you read if you are a book lover; it makes me wish I could correspond with a bookstore (or a book lover) about books. Can you imagine this happening with Amazon or Book Depository? Nowadays we have twitter (which I’m always on talking about my love of books) but 140 characters sometimes are not enough to say what you want to say.

I went into this book a little unsure, a collection of letters between a book lover and a bookseller, how great can this book really be? What I found was that the silver tongue and wit of Helene Hanff really made this book for me. You know that feeling in writing where you not sure if the person is being sarcastic or not, I started off wondering this but so found she had a wicked sense of humour and I’m so glad the people of Marks & Co never took offense (or they didn’t appear to). This might have been their (Frank Doel and the others that wrote to Helene) professional nature that slowly changed into a friendship, once they started to get to know each other and understood her sense of humour.

One of the major problems I had with this book is not really a problem but a personal preference, which has to do with grammar and formatting. I understand they tried to keep the writing the same as the letters but I wouldn’t mind if they fixed it a little to add punctuation and correct it. Another thing that throws me was the missing letters, I know things get lost but when you are absorbed in a conversation about a book (like Pride and Prejudice) it is disappointing to not know what happened.

The edition of 84 Charing Cross Road I borrowed from the library also came with The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. This is the travel diary of Helene Hanff’s time visiting London. Looking at details of this book the term ‘zesty memoir’ is mentioned a few times, but I felt it to be a disappointment in comparison. It was entertaining but it didn’t have the banter or wit I expected, it just felt like a step by step play of everything Helene did while visiting London. While these two books work as companion pieces The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street was too one sided for my taste. Think of it like a sequel, once you finish 84 Charing Cross Road you’ll probably want to know what happened on her trip to London.

84 Charing Cross Road has been made into a movie and a stage play; I’ve not seen them but I’m interested to see how this book translates into another medium. I love how the book is promoted with the line “so begins a love affair”; this is a love affair with books. I managed to write this entire review without mentioning this is an epistolary book that I feel the need to mention my achievement. Highly recommend that you get your hands on both novels and reading them, especially if you are a lover of books.

Careless People by Sarah Churchwell

Posted December 19, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 3 Comments

Careless People by Sarah ChurchwellTitle: Careless People (Goodreads)
Author: Sarah Churchwell
Published: Virago, 2013
Pages: 358
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

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Since the publication of The Great Gatsby in 1925, it has been talked and talked about. Some people were forced to read it in high school, some hate it and others love it. No matter what you think about the book you can’t deny its significance. Careless People looks at The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald and what was happening during the Jazz era. More specifically the months when this classic too place.

I loved The Great Gatsby, the first time I read it I got little out of it (see review) but the second time around, I feel like I really understood it (see that review as well). Though I’ve come to realise this novel is full of layers and the more you read and research the more you will get out of this novel. It has been widely though that The Great Gatsby was autobiographical in nature so understanding F. Scott Fitzgerald is important when reading this classic critically.

Sarah Churchwell has made life a little easier for people that love and want to learn more about this novel. Careless People looks at the text and then different events that were happening at the time of writing this novel. She also talks about the Fitzgeralds (a very interesting couple) and tries to give us some context about the motivations and thoughts behind this Magnum opus.

So you get historical context as well as a unique look into the lives of the Fitzgeralds and what we call the Jazz Age. I really enjoyed this book, as a lover of The Great Gatsby (not the terrible movie) I found it fascinating to learn about just what has happening at that time, especially in New York and F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the most interesting thinks I learnt from the book was about the lexicon, and new words coined at the time that are used today.

Something I often worry about when reading a non-fiction book like that is referencing. It is not common practice but I seem to respect a book more if I can see where information was found. Careless People did a great job with this; over 50 pages of notes and a bibliography so if you are interested (like me) you can look further and do some independent researching. Part biography, literary criticism, history and true crime, Careless People has a lot of information in it but it is only a scratching the surface on all accounts.

I wish I had this much to say about a book, especially the ones I love; I just want to dive in and learn all I can about it. I often struggle to write a review post, but one day I hope I can pull something off like this; keep an eye out for my 400 page reviews. It is clear that Churchwell is passionate about The Great Gatsby. This would be a great companion next time you read the classic, I can imagine how helpful it would be. I loved Careless People; I want to read more books like this, particularly about novels I love.

Solo by William Boyd

Posted November 6, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Thriller / 2 Comments

Solo by William BoydTitle: Solo (Goodreads)
Author: William Boyd
Series: James Bond
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2013
Pages: 322
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Paperback

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The year is 1969 and special agent James Bond has just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday when he is directed by M to undertake an unusual assignment. The western African nation of Zanzarim is in the middle of a civil war and his mission is to eliminate the rebel threat. When Bond gets to West Africa he soon finds out this isn’t as straightforward as it appeared. Soon he finds himself going solo to seek revenge.

I love the James Bond movies but haven’t had much experience with the 007 books; I have only read Carte Blanche and Casino Royale. So if I’m comparing this book to those two, then Solo is amazing. But if I compare it to everything I know about Bond then there is something missing. William Boyd has modelled his Bond after You Only Live Twice so I can’t help but picture Sean Connery.

Solo’s 007 seems to be a heavy smoker but his drinking and womanising is lacking. I know that might seem weird but Bond and misogyny go hand in hand. It is like having a Bond without any wacky gadgets…oh wait, that is a bit of problem here too. One of the things that got me out Boyd’s Bond was that whenever he beds a woman he is making love to her. This just bothered me, I can’t imagine Bond being in love with all those women so the term ‘making love’ doesn’t seem right, also couldn’t we mix it up a little and use a few different teams; ‘slept with’, ‘took to bed’ and so on?

Apart from my issues with this novel, Boyd has a decent knowledge of James Bond and it was nice to see references in the book to a younger 007. For example when he tried to get a Walther PPK in a gun store, they didn’t have any so he went with a Beretta and made references to this being his weapon of choice when he was younger. Little things like that really pulled the book together.

Aside from his knowledge on Bond, William Boyd also has a decent knowledge of that classic spy thriller formula. Nothing too complicated but the light reading of a Bond or Thriller novel. Blending the nuances of the Bond and spy thriller genre, Boyd really seemed to make this his own. While die-hard fans may be annoyed and some people will be bothered with the changes, this was a lot of fun to read.

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie

Posted February 8, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

Joseph Anton by Salman RushdieTitle: Joseph Anton (Goodreads)
Author: Salman Rushdie
Published: Jonathan Cape, 2012
Pages: 633
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

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On February 14 1989, Salman Rushdie got a call asking how he felt about being sentenced to death. The call was from a journalist who told him that the Ayatollah Khomeini has put a fatwa on him. His novel The Satanic Verses was accused of being “against Islam, the Prophet, and the Quran.” This is a memoir of the 10 years he went into hiding and was under police protection because of this fatwa.

When they asked Rushdie to pick an alias the first thing he did was think of the writers he respected, in this case Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. This is a memoir of complete honesty about the effect his novel The Satanic Verses had on his life. I found Rushdie to be very honest about the whole situation, from the bonds formed, the struggles, the fears and the idea of freedom of speech.

One thing that really stood out to me was the use of a third person narrator; a rarity in a memoir but it seemed to really work. It was like Salman Rushdie was telling a story of someone else. I’m not sure if Rushdie was trying to look at the situation from another perspective or if he felt like the situation changed who he was, but it really worked.

I remember The Satanic Verses and I know I had to research Islam to understand the book, but I never thought of it as a religious insult; I always viewed the book as one man’s struggle to make sense of his religion in a culture completely different. The importance of this book and its literary achievements really was out shadowed by the controversy. In Joseph Anton, Rushdie really does try to look at the entire situation in a unique way.

Salman Rushdie’s healing process is displayed on the page for everyone to see, but you can still see the bitterness and animosity in his narrative. This is what I found made this book so great; the author never held back and never tried to hide his emotions. It would have been a scary time of his life and I’m glad to understand what he went through a lot more than I expected.