Monday, January 14, 2013

the last book I ever read (Salman Rushdie's Joseph Anton, excerpt seventeen)

from Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie:

The novel was getting some of the best notices of his life, confirmations that the long derailment had not crippled him. There was a little U.S. book tour, but it was expensive. A small aircraft had to be hired. U.S. police forces insisted on the need for security, so a private security firm headed by an experienced fellow named Jerome H. Glazebrook had to be engaged. It was generous of Sonny Mehta to absorb most of these costs, though the venues contributed, and so did he. Sonny came with him on the tour and threw lavish parties in Miami (where everyone seemed to be a thriller writer, and where, after he asked Carl Hiaasen to fill him in about Miami, Hiaasen took a deep breath and stopped talking two hours later, giving a high-speed master class on Floridian political shenanigans) and in San Francisco (where Czeslaw Milosz, Robin Williams, Jerry Brown, Linda Ronstadt and Angela Davis were among the guests). These were slightly furtive events, with the guests not being told the truth about the author’s identity or the location of the bash until the last minute. Miami and San Francisco’s finest were frisked by security guards in case they were thinking of making a little extra cash by going after the bounty.

Sonny and he even had time for a weekend in Key West, where they were joined by Gita Mehta, who was looking well and was back to her buoyant, loquacious best. He thought of this unusual and costly book tour as Sonny’s silent way of apologizing for the problems he had caused at the time of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and was happy to let bygones be bygones. The day after he got back to London The Moor’s Last Sigh won him a British Book Award, a “Nibbie,” as the “author of the year.” (The book of the year Nibbie went to the cookbook writer Delia Smith who, in her acceptance speech, unusually referred to herself in the third person, “Thank you for honoring a Delia Smith book.”) A great cheer went up when his award was announced. I mustn’t forget that there is an England that’s on my side, he told himself. Given the continued attacks on his character in the papers he had come to think of collectively as the Daily Insult, it would have been easy, but wrong, to forget that.

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