Fiction & Biography _ Shelf life

C/assic novels rev/sited. This Issue: T/me’s Arrow

ESSAY (101 l l (IMON


Step Across This Line (Jonathan Cape 8‘20; .00.

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There is a long line of writers who have been forced to ply their trade in the face of hardship. The stories of people, even young girls, writing under the cloak of darkness to avoid incarceration by the Nazis or the Stalinists are legion; and you can only dream about the pain endured by Jeffrey Archer as he bashed out another bestseller during his recent incarceration.

But few can imagine the life Salman Rushdie has led ever since the ayatollahs cast their sentence over a humble, distant writer, thereby proving that their

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wind. And worse, the lack of direct support from those he would have expected to jump to his aid, his government and some fellow writers, must have hurt (though he probably wouldn't have been able to call Bono a pen pal otherwise). And could the fact that he had to rely on burly secret service agents, whose literary pursuits would most likely be a few Len Deightons, to buy his daily pinta may have been the hardest one to swallow. You suspect many people become writers for the space that it can give them, so how ironic that following his calling to the letter Ogre-fun “X r‘;; ;;<; (:‘ ‘."gjt; Mo had led Rushdie into an Salman Rushdie makes western liberals and Islamic preachers think again Il‘(} "‘<::..Ii‘&; :)‘ :iezm unimaginably restrictive existence. [>"=t;(‘,'i(3't;. l:(>l<:'(:~ '0‘; x J‘gj Weirdly, as the fatwa became less of a threat, the you feel the shackles sliding. tr‘cr" :2; s;..::« "Q We t::x :: relative freedom he began to enjoy resulted in a less He can be amusing and enlightening (such as in the gas; ‘r::"‘ tncr Lingjsa potent fictional output. The critical reaction for his last title essay on frontiers and borders, or even on postscript Amt; "(13.3. two, The Ground Beneath her Feet and Fury, was relatively trivial subjects such as Dorothy’s red shoes or “53(3),.” m “Nix”... 83,._.\(3.g; almost as damaging as being Tehran’s target practice. David Ginola’s golden locks). But more often than not, M3,, 1‘ 5, I- . I ' But judging by this new collection of essays and he can be simply right: the denunciation of Charlton q. 3.3,; 1.: m y columns, between 92 and now, his eye for crafty Heston and his gun law commandment post-Columbine phrasing and direct argument has remained true. is as potent as Michael Moore’s and his sense of .8... 3mm “of There are plenty people who have little time for measured outrage about 11 September (he has been an (mm. we: “(3.95 .. columnists, seeing them as handsomely paid adopted New Yorker for some time now) should make 1mg”; mgi (mam gm; :~ narcissists who sound off to no one in particular about western liberals and Islamic preachers think again. 3.1(3r(.,,e p m.;u.(.‘;.‘.,,\, nothing really worth worrying about. But if anyone Rushdie may have often stepped across the line in his mm mm. 0., \m m (7),“..5, deserved a chance to get things off his chest, it’s time, but he’s never been too far from greatness. ACMV-(jm : I J . Salman Rushdie; and as the years drain by in this book, (Brian Donaldson) mung“: vii/g f".§; (;'()(j’>“\‘

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104 THE LIST. ~ ‘.