citizen kerry

Someday i'm going to understand America. Until then, I have this blog.

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hanging out with salman rushdie

Friends, if you ever get the chance to hang out with Salman Rushdie, say yes! Even if “hang out” really means “see him read at the 92nd St. Y from his new book Luka and the Fire of Life.” Which I did on Monday night thanks to Bailey over at paperback girl.

  This man saved Princess Toadstool. 

Given that Sir Salman is one of the greatest writers on the planet, he doesn’t have to be entertaining in person. He could totally just phone in some well-crafted platitudes. And I’d still clap on command because the work speaks for itself! He had a fatwa against him! But instead he is funny. And full of surprises. Like: he’s solved Super Mario Brothers! (Years ago, to bond with his oldest son.) He’s not into reincarnation. (“Once is enough!”) And he sees Kansas as an example of “natural selection in reverse.” (He was referring to this.)

Even his confusion about America sounds elevated and almost fun. He says he’s  “constantly baffled by the brilliant surrealism of the world.” And that one only has to look at TSA checkpoints for proof that what is happening in our country today is “stranger than fiction.” 

Neat. It’s always nice to find yourself aligned with a living legend. 

Having just been body-scanned at SFO, where I was returning from a friend’s amazing wedding, I agree that TSA’s new measures are —pardon the pun—a trip. Actually, I didn’t feel so weird letting strangers take a crazy picture of my insides. (Perhaps? They didn’t show me.) I was just glad the thing didn’t puff air and dry my eyes, like I’d visualized it doing. Also, all security measures look awesome by comparison when you pass a woman being slow-frisked by a gloved female TSA agent.

I don’t know what to think about all this, because all my “evaluating America” headspace right now is reserved for George W. Bush, as I read his memoir, Decision Points, or Indecision Points as Mr. Rushdie referred to the book. But I’m sure it’s worthy of “surreal.”

Later I hope to share with you how he helped me think about George W. Bush. But for now, lots of gratitude to paperback girl for a ticket to see the man who taught me the power of the pen. And at least if I’m confused baffled by the surrealism of America, I’m in good company. 

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