One Thousand and One Nights or, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights ⎜Salman Rushdie

Dear Salman Rushdie,

When I was in secondary school, we were assigned The Moor’s Last Sigh. I remember they attempted to clad our vocabulary to understand your novel by giving us spelling and definition tests. I’m not sure it was the most successful exercise. I will however always remember Zarathustra, in relation to both you and Nietzsche.

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When I was working on my undergraduate degree, I read The Satanic Verses. I killed a fly with the book in Italy, and then left the book in a hotel in London. Sorry about that. I read it expecting to be shocked and altered. I don’t think about goats the same way, anymore. It also made me think about police brutality, which I had never really thought about before in my immediate context because of the privilege of my skin colour and where I grew up.

I have not yet begun your newest book Rushdie. I’m sorry. I will very soon. I also want to read Midnight’s Children because Indian History is so vital to understanding modern society. Don’t agree with me, other readers? Well, it is. The British had, for a very long time, traded with and, subsequently, colonized India. When the British left in 1947, they left ‘India’ divided and the catastrophic events of Partition occurred. Rushdie, your novel explores the decolonization of India and the events of partition through fiction. I will read this book; I promise. I am always on the look out for a nice edition. If you’re looking for some secondary literature on the subject, why not look up Neil Ten Korenaar’s book Self, Nation, Text in Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”.

self, nation, identity

Before I even asked for Two Years, my mom and I were walking through a shop. I had picked it up and put it in my basket. She was about to catch up to me in the store, when she stopped and looked at the stack of your books. She picked the book up. She touched the front cover. She paused. She walked past the other books and came to me. Then she saw the book in my basket. She smiled and said, ‘How do you do that?’ ‘Do what,’ I asked, a little too innocently. ‘Use your brain powers to direct me to the books you want without telling me?’ I smiled, ‘It’s the jin.’

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Rushdie, there is a Goya print as your frontispiece. When I got the book, it was a birthday gift from my mom, we went through the pages. My mom saw the print and noted the name. When I saw Goya I cried aloud, significantly, ‘It’s GOYA!’ She smiled, because she had previously bought me an art historical book all about Goya. In case you’re wondering, it’s Goya: Order and Disorder. She then went on to skip to a random page and read out some lines. We were in the car. Our dog was staring at us from the yard, she was supposed to be going pee but was, instead, giving my sister a hard time.

I’m not sure what this all means. I think it’s just what is. You have been with me since I was less read and a lot more green. I wish that I had known then what I have since learnt. I think it would have made your book more meaningful and significant to me. That’s why I advocate that we should all always be students of history. Some authors would have us disregard context, prior knowledge, and an author’s life. Can we, or should we, do this? I don’t know. History and storytelling fix our narratives. They help us to learn how to use words effectively so we may speak our own momentary truths. Our capacity to keep learning and grow consoles me, so I can revisit your books as a different person every time.

When my dog bounces like a bunny or prances like a cat, I often ask her if she is having an identity crisis. Whether it would be useful for us to revisit Sartre? She stares with her big eyes and hopes I’ll give her a treat or, better yet, a full meal. When I am unsure of how or who I am, I look to you with my eyes full of hope and wonder, waiting to be filled with your words and meaning.

Dearest Rushdie, I’m about to begin your book. It will be the most glorious 1,001 Nights yet.

Heaps of Love,
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Our Adventures in Wonderland

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Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass (Toronto: Penguin Books, 1997).

Hello Friends,
I am currently doing the groundwork and research to produce my posts on Oliver Twist. They are coming. Alongside, I will be reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Join me, if you are looking for a fun and enjoyable read. As I was reading the beginning yesterday, I was chuckling at Alice’s silliness. She’s such a funny one, and I think that this book is far more approachable to me as an adult than as a child. I, at least, now know what the Antipathies…I mean antipodes…are. (And, the pink dot on the Mad Hatter’s trousers is nail polish/varnish with which decorated my book as a child.)

Research and page 100 from Alice (edition above)

Research and page 100 from Alice (edition above)

My mom bought me this copy when I was quite young. I have a few other versions. I purchased a bilingual (French and English) copy in Belgium. The English portion is a facsimile of the original text, and the French is found in the margins. I purchased a used copy from Skoob Books in London last March; it is a little too cute to read and annotate, so I’ve decided to use the copy in the image above. It is pretty useful because the font size is meant for children, so it’s a lot easier on my eyes. Like the copy from Skoob, this edition is illustrated by John Tenniel. We have a few others that my mom purchased when my sister and I were younger, including one with Whoopi Goldberg. I hope you’ll read with me, but if you’re nose is buried in another book keep reading.

Keep very well, my dearest ones. What books are you reading?!

Heaps of Love,
WordPlay Xx

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