Book Review: Trust – by Hernan Diaz

My wife’s book club has assigned themselves Trust to read as the current book. Sometimes I tag on and read their book – but I stay away from the book club. Let me take a wild guess: Nobody in her book club is going to finish reading this book. I got to 37% before I finally gave up.

Trust won the Pulitzer Prize – go figure.

This book is utterly unreadable. I have a hard time believing that anybody can possibly finish reading this book. It’s about nothing. It starts out with a story about a young financier named Benjamin Rask and his wife Helen, both socially inept but somehow financially brilliant. Benjamin inherits his father’s tobacco empire and when both of his parents die, he promptly sells it and builds his own financial empire. Then he marries Helen, a young woman without any social skills. Today they would both probably be on the autistic spectrum. It is not clear how the two are becoming tycoons and billionaires in the New York of the 1920s.

There is NO DIALOG in this book. The characters are never speaking. The entire book is exposition. There isn’t even much character description. It just tells you, on and on and on, what the characters are thinking and doing. As a result, they never become real. They have no personalities, no depth, you can’t picture them. And they never do anything. Nothing happens. Yes, the author tells you what is going on, but you have to believe him. Since nothing happens, there is no story, there is no suspense. You don’t want to turn the pages to find out what happens next.

The only reason I kept turning the pages was because I thought that sometime soon the story must start. And then, at about 34%, the first book about Benjamin and Helen just stopped almost mid-sentence. Another book started, and the author described the unbelievable life of another brat rich guy. More exposition, more of no action, no story, no suspense.

Please, let me out of this!

As always when I don’t finish reading a book, I refrain from rating it.

If you find yourself reading this book and finishing it, I’d like to hear about it. You should earn a prize.

Pulitzer anyone?

Book Review: The Last Chairlift – by John Irving

I tried. I tried really hard to read and finish this book. But by the time I got to 50%, I could not take it anymore. The problem is that the book has 908 pages in print format, so reading 50% of that is more than any normal novel already. I made a huge investment of time in The Last Chairlift.

John Irving is an icon. I read The World According to Garp when I was just 22 years old when it first came out. I remember it being controversial, I remember liking it, but I remember nothing about it after that.

I think I picked up Cider House Rules, but I don’t think I finished reading that either.

I know I read A Prayer for Owen Meany, I remember I thought it was a great book, but I remember nothing more about it now either.

Maybe if John Irving’s books were not so long, I’d read more of them.

In The Last Chairlift, the protagonist Adam Brewster tells his life story. His mother, Ray Brewster, is a competitive skier but she is very short and “little.” Being little is a big deal in this book. During a competition in Aspen when she was still a teenager, she gets herself pregnant. Adam is the result. Much of his story is trying to find out who his father is, as little Ray never reveals the secret, at least not in the first half of the book.

Irving employs a very unique writing style. One of the characters, Ray’s roommate and lover, as we find out, operates a machine that grooms the slopes at night. Her name is Molly. However, Adam, the narrator, refers to her as the trail groomer, the snowcat operator, the night groomer, and some variations on the theme. Another character is Elliot Barlow, Adam’s stepfather, who is even smaller than Ray at under 5 feet. Adam calls him the snowshoer, because that’s what Elliot was doing when he first saw him. But he also calls him the little English teacher and other variations.

For example: “…we know, Ray,” the night groomer was consoling her, when the snowshoer just showed up….

This style is entertaining and unique, and you get to love and enjoy the characters. Irving deals with transsexual issues, as Elliot eventually transitions to become a woman. Adam then refers to the little English teacher interchangeably as he or she in the same paragraph. He deals with sexual misconduct, homophobia, bigotry, and all the ailments in our divided society. He deals with art and literature, as Adam is a novelist. The whole story is framed in the world of competitive skiing – as the title of the book might indicate. And, as seems to be a staple in every Irving book, there is much wrestling going on.

I didn’t give anything away here. The Last Chairlift is a very entertaining book, often humorous, sometimes to the point of laughing out loud. But it’s too long, way too long, and by the time I was half-way through I found myself just turning pages to get on with it. Adam chronicles his entire life and family and extended family, but nothing really ever happens. There is no suspense. There is just more, endless hilariousness, and it got boring.

If you are a diehard fan of John Irving, this is your book. Otherwise, you can pass.

As always when I don’t finish reading a book, I refrain from rating it. However, I did just buy Owen Meany again on Kindle to give it another read.

Book Review – Kaiju Preservation Society – by John Scalzi

A co-worker suggested this book, so I picked it up. I had read several other books by John Scalzi which I had enjoyed. Even though the description of this one hadn’t drawn me in before, I went for it now.

It’s basically an alternate universe story, where, on another earth, evolution took a very different course, mammals never happened, and huge massive Godzilla like creatures ruled the earth. The creatures are the Kaiju. A group of scientists in an international foundation study them.

I found myself very disinterested in the story, not engaged by the characters, and the science just made no sense. By the time I was 20% into the book I noticed that I was only reading it so I would eventually get done with it and move on. This went on until 39%, when I could not stand it any more and I closed it – as another “book not finished reading.”

As is my policy, I do not rate books I don’t finish. I just explain what’s in it, and why I could not read it. Kaiju Preservation Society was just utterly uninteresting. When I don’t care about what happens next, I just can’t go on.

Book Review: Hawaii – by James Michener

I first read this book in 1993 during my first ever trip to Hawaii. It’s a long book and I didn’t finish it during the one-week trip, but brought it home with me and worked through it. I had good memories of the epic stories.

So this year, on another trip to Hawaii, I decided to read the book a second time.

I enjoyed the introductory chapter of the formation of the Hawaiian Islands millions of years ago. The book brings to life how the islands were formed and how its flora and fauna became established. That chapter of the book is priceless and I still think about it every time I visit the Islands.

The next section describes in detail the lives of the islanders in Bora Bora and the surrounding islands in the South Pacific thousands of years ago. We learn what their lives were like, driven by superstition, and brutal beyond belief, particularly in their paradise-like environment. We find out what might have motivated those early islanders to make a trip by canoe, thousands of miles to the north, to eventually find and settle Hawaii.

I also enjoyed the journey of the missionaries from England in the early part of the nineteenth century, by brig, round Cape Horn and eventually to Hawaii. The book describes in excruciating detail the difficulties seamen encountered trying to round Cape Horn. The only other book that comes close to that I have read is Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana – which I very highly recommend – particularly if you are a Southern Californian. You’ll never see the California coast the same way again after reading Dana.

When the missionaries finally arrived in Hawaii, at Lahaina in Maui, they immediately set to work destroying the culture and spiritual world of the natives, forcing the exploitative practices of the Christian religion upon the people. Descriptions of their methods and practices further foster my dislike of religions in general.

Abner Hale is the lead missionary on Maui, and he is a hapless, rigid puritan with a chip on his shoulder. Nobody likes him, but his relentless drive, and his industrious nature, get things done and moving forward. He hounds the natives and emotionally brutalizes them.

And then I got bored with the book. The religious lecturing goes on for dozens and dozens of pages, and at 25% I finally gave up. I remember it’s an epic work, I remember enjoying the book over 25 years ago, but those memories are not strong enough for me to endure another 75%. There are other things to read.

Not star-rated because I didn’t finish reading the book.


Book Review: Seven Rules of Time Travel – by Roy Huff

This story tries to speculate what it would be like to change the past. Quinn Black wakes up one morning, goes to work, and along the way witnesses a terrible accident in which is boss and friend dies in front of his eyes.

The next day, he  wakes up again at the same time, and makes small changes, but can’t avoid the inevitable outcome. Groundhog Day – they made a movie about this decades ago.

Quinn realizes that he can just will himself to any day or time, generally in the past that he can remember, and relive it. However, when he goes back to his youth to meet up with his best friend, he is not the old Quinn, he is the old Quinn in the young Quinn’s body of that time.

The “rules” of time travel are very nebulous in this story, and it’s not very scientific.

I simply got bored and lost interest. I read 104 out of the 307 pages, stopped at 33%, never to go back.

I usually force myself to finish a book, but some are so bad, I can’t do it. That’s why I have a category “books not finished reading” that you can search and see all the other ones.

Consistent with my own rules for reviews, I do not rate a book I didn’t finish.

As far as time travel stories are concerned, I recommend you skip this book, and its sequel. There is nothing original or even remotely interesting here.



New York, Paris, London and Chula Vista – Musings by Henry Miller

When browsing some of my writings about “books not finished reading” I came across the Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller. I wrote about that book in 2008, and I got a kick out of it again now – so I am sharing it here again.

Go search for Chula Vista and enjoy.

Book Review: Leviathon Wakes – by James S. A. Corey

I like a good hard science fiction story from time to time, so I picked up Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey. It’s the first book of the Expanse series, a whopping eight book series that plays about two hundred years in the future. Humanity has made the leap into space and has colonized the solar system. There are people living in the asteroid belt, called the belters, there are people living on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, and even farther out in the solar system. The story is a “space opera” with many characters, interesting situations and description of what life would be like for humans living their entire lives on an asteroid, for instance, where the gravity is perhaps one percent that of earth.

So the story had promise and I was looking forward to it and possibly the entire series. But as it often goes with space-opera type science fiction, it starts becoming a story of human politics, corruption and foibles, which could play anywhere in any small town. You don’t need to put me on Ceres for that.

I make a serious effort to finish all the books I start reading, but that only goes so far. By the time I got to the 26% point I was so hopelessly bored, I just didn’t want to read any further. If an author does not get me interested in his characters a quarter of the way through a book, I can’t help it. I give up. I won’t be reading any of the other books of this author.

As customary in my blog, I do not rate books that I don’t finish reading (most of the time). If you are interested in some of the others, you can search for “Books (not finished reading)” by selecting that category and you can see them all.


Book Review: Mission in Time: An Incredible Time-Travel Story – by Richard Scott

About a year ago I read A Time Before Time, and I said it was the worst book I had ever read.

But Mission in Time is definitely worse. Usually I don’t rate books I don’t finish reading, just to be fair, but this one gets a zero, even though I didn’t get past 25% into the book. By that time, I could not stand it anymore.

A Time Before Time was a time travel book where an astronaut, due to an accident, ends up landing in the Wild West. Mission in Time is a time travel book where two astronauts, due to a malfunction, end up landing off the coast of Massachusetts in 1774. Do those two plots sound similar?

Mission in Time is really bad for other reasons than A Time Before Time, so it warrants discussion here.

The author places two 21st century astronauts into a credible setting just before the revolutionary war in Massachusetts. The story is about how a person with knowledge and experience of today would be able to modify the outcome of the historic events of those days. Since I didn’t read past 25%, I actually don’t know how it ends, and whether the two hapless astronauts ever make it back. I don’t really care enough about them to find out and keep reading.

There are actually a number of excellent and very entertaining time travel stories in which the protagonists end up in the 19th century. Examples are John A. Heldt’s books The Mine and The Show. There is also Hollie Van Horne’s Reflections of Toddsville. Another is Seldon Edwards’ The Little Book. And of course the classic Time and Again and From Time to Time by Jack Finney are probably some of the best in this genre. I gave both Finney books four stars. You should read them.

In all these time travel books we experience how the protagonists get along in the past and enjoy their journeys. How they actually get there, and back again, is not all that important. It just happens through some fictional mechanism, and we accept it.

In Mission in Time however, Richard Scott spends the first five chapters of the book coming up with a “scientific” process that gets the astronauts displaced in time. And that’s where the problem lies. The “scientific” way is so flawed, so obviously silly, it’s distracting and insulting to the reader’s intelligence.

The mission is to have the astronauts travel a couple of years into the future. To do that, they are sent on a spaceship away from earth, and the theory is that the closer to the speed of light they travel, the more they are displaced into the future. Any science fiction fan will know that time dilation theoretically makes that possible. As a ship approaches the speed of light, time slows down on the ship, and relative to the earth left behind, the occupants age more slowly. The “twin paradox” is described in many science fiction stories, and the result is that the travelers who come back have aged more slowly, so their counterparts on earth have aged faster and are therefore older. So yes, the concept to traveling some distance into the future is valid and somewhat plausible.

However, in their trip, something goes wrong with the ship, and eventually the ship exceeds the speed of light. They were taught that if that happened, they would travel to the past, but since it had never been done before, they would not know how far into the past. This travel into the past, requiring a spaceship traveling faster than light, is a concept totally unfounded in physics. The author makes that up to explain how the astronauts eventually end up in the past. He could have just come up with a magic wand that transported them Harry Potter-style, the story would have been five chapters shorter, and actually much better. The reader would not have been distracted by the weird physics.

This is how the author describes to outbound trip:

Once free of gravity and the atmosphere, the neutrino accelerator took over. At first the weak propulsion of the neutrinos was negligible, but in outer space there is no atmosphere, which means no resistance. As the neutrino emissions continued, the ship gradually increased speed. Each second it was going faster than the previous second. After awhile we were really moving. When we’d been in space for about four months (Earth time) we were moving at 90 percent of the speed of light. As I’ve already explained, that was supposed to take us approximately two years into the future by the time we had returned to Earth.

Scott, Richard. Mission in Time: An incredible time-travel journey (p. 26). Winter Island Press. Kindle Edition.

To accelerate from zero to approximately the speed of light at 1g (one gravity) takes approximately a year. This is pretty simple to calculate. To be at 90 percent of the speed of light after 4 months, they would have to have accelerated at about 3g constantly. He describes the little spacecraft they were in:

Our cabin was about seven feet across and 12 feet from front to back. We could leave our seats, but because we were in space we couldn’t even walk in those 12 feet inside the cabin. We could float and pull ourselves about, which we did a lot, but that relatively confining cabin often felt more like a prison cell than the inside of a vehicle that was taking us somewhere to an unknown destination.

Scott, Richard. Mission in Time: An incredible time-travel journey (p. 29). Winter Island Press. Kindle Edition.

It does not sound like there was acceleration going on, just floating. But here it get really interesting:

We were nearing the terminus ad quem and waiting for the side thrusters to go into action. We needed to come to almost a complete stop before the side thrusters were activated. Here’s what blew my mind as we neared that stopping point. At that spot in space we were approximately 1.4 light years from Earth. That’s 8.4 trillion miles. The human mind can’t deal with distances like that. We couldn’t see our Sun from where we were. Not with the naked eye anyway. To put things in perspective, after traveling 1.4 light years from home, we were still in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

Scott, Richard. Mission in Time: An incredible time-travel journey (pp. 26-27). Winter Island Press. Kindle Edition.

There are so many things wrong here I can hardly list them all.

First, he says they need to come to a complete stop in order to turn around. That spot in space was at 1.4 light years from Earth. If it took them 4 months to accelerate to light speed at 3g, to slow down to a complete stop and turn around and go back to Earth will take another 4 months at 3g acceleration, before they are stopped relative to Earth and can start going back, accelerating again to light speed for 4 months and decelerating again. Reading the author’s explanation sounds like the ship just stopped and the magic side thrusters turned it around to go back.

Then he says they couldn’t see the Sun from where they were? Really? They were 1.4 light years out, that’s about a third of the way to Alpha Centauri. From that point in space, the sun would still be by far the brightest star in the sky. But then, in the section below he states they saw Alpha Centauri, the closest star to Earth, and it was the biggest of them all – even though then it was still 2.6 light years away.

As we neared the final third of our trip back to Earth of an earlier time, we came closer than humans have ever come to many of the stars that I had seen through telescopes when I was younger. Off in the distance we saw an amazingly bright 61 Cygni, which is 11 light years from Earth, but appeared huge to us from our position in space. Again we saw a huge-looking Sirius, the brightest star in the sky when you’re looking at it from Earth. Then we saw Alpha Centauri, the closest star to Earth. To us, it was the biggest of them all.

Scott, Richard. Mission in Time: An incredible time-travel journey (p. 29). Winter Island Press. Kindle Edition.

So 61 Cygni, 11 light years from Earth, was suddenly “huge” when they were 1.4 light years closer to it, that’s assuming 61 Cygni is anywhere near the direction of Alpha Centauri.

Enough! You get the idea.

The first five chapters of the book are full of nonsense like this that the author sounds like he is trying to pass off as physics. But it’s just that, nonsense. The author should have had the two men hit by lightning as they walked the streets of Boston on a summer night and transported them to 1774 that way. It would have been a much better story, and the author would have maintained some semblance of credibility.

And I would not have written the longest book review ever about one of the worst books I have ever not finished reading.

Zero Stars

Book Review: Tales of the Time Scouts – by Robert Asprin and Linda Evans


Tales of the Time Scouts is time travel story with a great premise. It is also the first of a series of four books.

Due to a scientific accident, time gates have developed all over the world. People walking through these gates end up in different places at different times. The stable gates reappear at predictable intervals, sort of like the Old Faithful geyser. But the intervals are not initially obvious, and the destinations of gates must be explored. To make it worse, gates sometimes are unstable. Walking  through an unstable gate can, of course, be fatal, or fateful. It could be a one-way ticket and you could  be stuck in a dinosaur world with nothing but your pocket knife.

Time Scouts are individuals whose job it is to explore the gates, and document their specifics. A stable gate can then be used for research, trade, and time tourism. It’s possible, with the help of Time Guides, to visit ancient Rome, for instance.

The time portals are like transit stations, you can think of them as train stations or airports, except the departures are going into times, not places.

I have serious issues with the credibility of the main characters. One is Kit Carson, the most famous time scout of all, who is now retired, working as a hotel keeper at Time Terminal 86. From the description and behavior, I have formed a picture of Sam Elliott in my mind for Kit Carson. Margo, a girl barely 18 years old, desperately wants to be the world’s first female time scout. Females have never been used as time scouts, because in almost all societies in the past, in almost all eras, females were at best second-class citizens, and often abused, enslaved and worse. It’s not considered healthy for a female to show up in ancient Egypt, for instance, come up with a credible story and actually survive to return when the gate opens again.

For that reason, nobody is willing to train Margo. Everyone thinks it’s a suicide mission. She vehemently insists on fulfilling this goal. However, she constantly does stupid stuff. When she has to work at learning self-defense, she mopes.  When math is involved, she complains. When book learning comes up, she rebels.  Her behavior just makes no sense. If she were really dedicated to success, after she convinced the most renowned person in the business to train her, why would she keep bickering and sabotaging her own training?

Her juvenile behavior and her inconsistent character traits make for a jarring story line. I found myself constantly annoyed by Margo’s immaturity and stupidity, to the point where I lost interest.

Why the authors chose a hot-looking 18-year-old girl as protagonist for this story I do not understand. The story, the premise, is very promising and thought-provoking. Margo’s character destroys it.

I gave up at about 15% into the book. Perhaps Margo’s role gets better as the story goes on, I’ll never know, and I won’t be reading the sequels.

Not star-rated because I didn’t finish reading the book.

Book Review: Tinkers – by Paul Harding


Once again I was seduced into buying a book because it was marketed well. After all, it has won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

Reading it I was bored out of my mind, but since it’s a short book, only 200 pages long, I thought I could make it through it just for the “experience.” I gave up at about 25%, when I found myself just turning the pages to get on with it.

There is no character development, no plot, no story, no reason to keep reading on, ever. Check out this random section below. This is what this book is like throughout:

Such vanity! What gall to elect for yourself such attention, good or bad. Project yourself above yourself. Look at the top of your dusty hat: cheap felt, wilted and patched with scraps from the last wilted and patched felt hat. What a crown! What a king you are to deserve such displeasure, how important that God stop whatever it is He is tending and pitch bolts at your head. Rise higher, above the trees. Your crown is already hard to see amid the dust of the road and dirt of the ditch. But you are still remarkable. Rise higher, perhaps to the height where the blackbirds flap. Where have you gone? Oh, there you are, I think. That is you, isn’t it, that wisp inching along? Well, rise higher, then, to the belly of the clouds. Where have you gone? Now higher, to where, if you are not careful, you might stub your toe on the mountains of the moon. Where are you? Never mind you; where is your home, your county, your state, your nation? Ah, there it is! And higher now, so that your hair and the lashes of your eyes catch fire from the sparks of solar flares. On which of those bright bodies do you rule your kingdom of dirt, your cart of soap? Very well, that one. I hope you are right—there is little need for a tinker on Mars. Now higher again, past the eighth planet, named for the king of the sea. And higher again, past the shadowy ninth, which for now only exists in the dreams of men back on—Well! Where have you gone? Which among those millions of glittering facets is where you belong? Where is it you toil and drum and fall to the ground and thrash in the weeds?

— Harding, Paul. Tinkers (p. 74). Bellevue Literary Press. Kindle Edition.

Are you captured? Are you dying to turn the page? Are you wondering what happens next? Did the lashes of your eyes catch fire? Or are you glad you made it through this nonsense?

I guess they call this poetic prose. I call it self-indulgent babble of an author in love with his own words. There may be a market for this, but I can’t imagine that anyone actually reads this stuff.

Oh, well, there go my ten bucks.

Another Pulitzer Prize winning book that I found unreadable was A Visit from the Goon Squad, where I got to about 25% in January 2012 when I gave up.

Perhaps I need to stay away from Pulitzer Prize winners going forward.

No rating because I didn’t finish the book.

Book Review: The Spaceship Next Door – by Gene Doucette

Spaceship Next DoorI picked this book up on a whim probably due to the title. I read the sample and liked the style of the writer. He does good descriptions and reasonable dialog, and things sound real. The story plays in a small town in Northern Massachusetts, and it has a Stephen King-esque quality to it.

However, Doucette is no Stephen King. He is a bit wordy and sometimes spends pages describing details that have no bearing on the story. For instance, at one point, he describes all the various ways the protagonist can drive home, as if there was some important fact embedded in there. When I eventually realized there wasn’t, I felt that the author had wasted my time. He could take away 50% of this book and lose nothing.

So, in the end, it’s a boring, tedious read, because not too much happens that is interesting. At about the 40% mark zombies started showing up. So that’s what I was reading all this trivial stuff for? Zombies?

That’s the point where I abandoned the book. I read some of the Amazon reviews and they convinced me that it’s not worth my time continuing.

No rating – since I didn’t finish the book.

I Can’t Read Moby Dick

I can’t read Moby Dick!

When I saw that there was going to be a movie about Moby Dick, I remembered the old book that has been in one of the boxes in the garage for 40 years. I found the book.

Moby Dick

I opened the cover and I found a dedication from one of my best friends in high school. It turns out, he had given me the book as a Christmas present on Christmas Day 1976, the first time we saw each other after graduating a year and a half before. I had forgotten that this dedication existed.

Dedication to Moby Dick

I redacted his name for his privacy. There was a book mark in page 145, but I remembered nothing, so I thought I’d better start from the beginning.

The pages were yellowed, and the print too small for my now old eyes, so I did what I often do these days with old books: I bought it again on my Kindle. Then I started reading.

I worked at it. And worked at it. I continued on to page 204 out of 549 or 38%, when I finally stopped. Reading Moby Dick is hard work, and I didn’t enjoy the story, or the writing style. That happens to me a lot. See my comments about Ulysses, here, here and here. I am now adding Moby Dick to this illustrious list.

There are far too many books yet to read, and there is so much more sand now in the bottom part of the hourglass of my life compared to what’s left in the top, so the hours are getting more valuable with every page I turn.

I love the physical book that is called Moby Dick; it is a trusted friend that has been with me a lifetime. I cherish the friendship of the one who gave it to me on Christmas Day 1976. I will always keep the hardcopy, so one day, my son might want to read it.

I remain honored to be compared to Queequeg, in the classic that is Moby Dick.

And here I stop.

Book Review: The Sound and the Fury – by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner, is on slot number six of my 100 Greatest Novels (in the English language) list that I am working my way through.

I have trouble reading Faulkner books. As I Lay Dying is the only book by Faulkner that I have read successfully, where I could maintain interest. I think I have to stay away from Faulkner, no matter how high his work is rated in literary circles.

Sorry, William, I skimmed about 50% of this and I can’t remember a damn thing about this book.

Book Review: Darkness at Noon – by Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler, is on slot number eight of my 100 Greatest Novels (in the English language) list that I am working my way through.

I got to about 10% with fairly good intentions. Then things started to get less and less interesting. Approaching 20%, I found myself skimming through entire pages that I didn’t care about. And at 25% I completely gave up.

Somehow this book didn’t grab me whatsoever.

Can’t Read The Satanic Verses

satanic verses

Salmon Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988. The book quickly became controversial and provoked protests from Muslims around the world. Rushdie received death threats. Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, put a price on his head on 14 February 1989 through a fatwā, which is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. Rushdie had to go into hiding, and he was not heard of for many years. Since 2000 he has lived in the United States.

When The Satanic Verses and its controversy arose at the time, I wanted to read the book. I would never have heard of Rushdie and his book at the time without the fatwā and the international headlines it caused. Through the controversy, the book was probably much more successful and widely read than it would have been otherwise. Fundamental religious zealots usually don’t have much public relations sense.

I never did get around to reading it at the time.

Recently I picked it up, partly because a coworker recommended it. To my surprise, I found it utterly unreadable. After trying for a few hours, spread over a few days, I finally put it down.

Here is a random excerpt:

Who was she? Rich, certainly, but then Everest Vilas was not exactly a tenement in Kurla, eh? Married, yessir, thirteen years, with a husband big in ball-bearings. Independent, her carpet and antique showrooms thriving at their prime Colaba sites. She called her carpets _klims_ and _kleens_ and the ancient artefacts were _anti-queues_. Yes,  and she was beautiful, beautiful in the hard, glossy manner of those rerefied occpuants of the city’s sky-homes, her bones skin posture all bearing witness to her long divorce from the impoverished, heavy pullulating earth. Everyone agreed she had a strong personality, drank _like a fish_ from Lalique crystal and hung her hat _shameless_ on a Chola Natraj and knew what she wanted and how to get it, fast. The husband was a mouse with money and a good squash wrist. Rekha Merchant read Gibreel Farishta’s farewell note in the newspapers, wrote a letter of her own, gathered her children, summoned the elevator, and rose heavenward (one storey) to meet her chosen fate.

This was difficult to type and the spell-checker went crazy.

I am filing The Satanic Verses with Books not finished reading. Here is a review by a reader more patient than I am.