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Shalimar the Clown: A Novel by Salman Rushdie
Shalimar the Clown: A Novel

minsungus, May 11, 2009

Rarely if ever does the term "understatement" find its way into a discussion of Salman Rushdie--and yet, in this one moment, when I am compelled to emphasize its presence, I simultaneously carry out perhaps the gravest of injustices. For Shalimar is as much about a clown, on the one hand, as it is the next great novel in the tradition of 9-11 literature and contemporary autrocity.

In fact, we are bombarded at every corner by such generalizations, such understatement of details--with details as plenty as any Rushdie compendium of pop-culture, and the result?

If that is all there is to it, then there would be few reasons to read further. But in fact there is every reason. For this is am amazing adept volume, a step ahead of what he have come to expect from a Rushdie novel--this distance given visuality insofar as the clown is, himself, at leaast once removed from the pre-requisite carnival funhouse that frames the narrative as a whole, that melds bits and pieces from across the weave and, however momentarily, brings an image, an illusion, the cosmetic nose of a clown's red into focus, makes all seemingly--if not comprehendible--within the reach of out comprehensions.

And what does it matter. The circus is always in town, we are reminded, and the clown will always be here. If we miss a single moment from this performance--and in all likelihood, we will--we need only wait. With the next performance, as the red is made new again and the crowds file passed the entrance, we know that we are in for a new, utterly fascinating and fantastic performance--and one that will just as likely be as different as those performances we missed, slept through or let pass on our way to what had promised to be a far more compelling performance.
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