September 6, 2017

A quick writer: "Salman Rushdie launches a novelistic attack on Trump."

How did he manage that? The book, "The Golden House," is 400 pages long.

This is WaPo's book editor, Ron Charles:
“The Golden House” doesn’t mention Trump by name — Rushdie wouldn’t give him that satisfaction — but there’s no doubt about the real identity of the “giant victorious green-haired cartoon king.” That gothic villain rages around the background of this story, setting the tone for a nation in peril. The narrator howls, “The best had lost all conviction, and the worst were filled with passionate intensity and the weakness of the just was revealed by the wrath of the unjust.”
"Howls." Thanks for using a verb to telegraph that you hate the book. 
In the foreground, “The Golden House” is a family epic that cobbles together contemporary drama, ancient myths and modern films. We follow the rise and fall of a fabulously wealthy businessman named Nero Julius Golden (the quality of subtlety is not strained in these pages). He arrives in New York in 2009 with his three doomed sons. Refusing to speak of the country they left, Nero sets up his family in a grand mansion — a “palace of illusions” — in the Gardens Historic District of Greenwich Village. “We are snakes who shed our skins,” Nero announces, and so a glittery new family is born, “shedding their Gatz origins to become shirt-owning Gatsbys and pursue dreams called Daisy or perhaps simply America.”
That strikes me as not merely anti-Trump but anti-Semitic. The WaPo reviewer, declaring the Nero Julius Golden character unsubtle, never mentions the potential second meaning. (Trump is often accused of anti-Semitism, but consider the hypothesis that the hatred of Trump is a displacement of anti-Semitism.)

41 comments:

madAsHell said...

He has a death wish, or maybe nobody is buying his books.

DAN said...

I hope the howling narrator at least gives credit to Yeats.

Kate said...

Yeats' "The Second Coming". Again. I've never read Rushdie but I assumed he was cleverer.

rehajm said...

It's not Trump! He's orange, not green!

Trying out some leftie literalism.

traditionalguy said...

Trump Resistance with constant threats to kill him for his being an America First nationalist does resemble the anti semitism. Both are unearned hatreds. At best they both arise from fear of the other's unstoppable success.

BDNYC said...

What the hell did I just read?

Nonapod said...

We may have achieved peak snowflake, but we're still a long way from peak Trump derangement.

Achilles said...

The leftists are intent on making themselves into a parody.

narciso said...

In 2009, who came to prominence again, who was at all the circuses and offered bread to the people, it wee tainted with ergot but still.

Ralph L said...

It's not Trump! He's orange, not green!
Was Orange Julius a national fast food chain?

Michael K said...

Rushdie is getting feisty for a guy with a price on his head and a home in England that is getting steadily Muslim.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yeats' "The Second Coming". Again. I've never read Rushdie but I assumed he was cleverer."

That's the point. Rushdie is banal. The reviewer quotes other awful stuff and says: "Is that stylistic laziness or is it a super-sophisticated act of mimicry, Rushdie’s success at capturing the voice of a cliche thinker?"

The Yeats quote is so hackneyed that I looked to see if there was a Wikipedia page just for that quote. (There's one for the whole poem.) I was hoping to get a list of all the overuse of the phrase. I was surprised that a writer hoping to be regarded as distinguished would resort to that phrase, which is, as I hear it now, as dumb as writing something like "It's raining cats and dogs."

You'd think he'd be more careful when everyone is likely to be thinking: How'd he churn out 400 pages so quickly?

But the reviewer is nice enough to give Rushdie a loophole: The book's narrator is a boring, dull user of clichés.

tcrosse said...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity....

narciso said...

Not really a surprise:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/19/margaret-thatcher-1980s-how-novelists-response
Christopher coe was much more pointed with the winshaws

Ann Althouse said...

Here's Paul Krugman after the 2012 elections, under the heading "Wisconsin":

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with a passionate intensity. Obviously I’m not happy with the result; not just out of political sympathies, but because all the recent political trends have been rewarding the side that caused the very crisis from which it is now benefiting, not to mention politicians who have been wrong about everything since the crisis hit."

He's talking about the reelection of Scott Walker. Apparently the virulent opposition counted as lacking conviction, while Walker's supporters were the ones deemed to be "filled with a passionate intensity."

Skipper said...

Has anyone in the world actually every read a Rushdie "novel"?

William said...

He used to attack Margaret Thatcher wth more skill and imagination. Well, he's older now and drinks a lot. It dulls the edges. I always relish the fact that it was her government that provided protection for him from the howling mob. The howling mob was not comprised of Thatcher voters.......l knew some people who had to dodge falling debris on 9/11. They weren't particularly brave. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ditto with Salman.

CJinPA said...

I really think this book will a game-changer.

chuck said...

Rushdie wouldn’t give him that satisfaction

Because, you know, Rushdie is really important.

tim in vermont said...

I love that anti kind of Semitism where you hate your own famn damily.

tim in vermont said...

Has anyone in the world actually every read a Rushdie "novel"?

I tried once.

tim in vermont said...

not to mention politicians who have been wrong about everything since the crisis hit."

Enron shill says what? Too bad he sold all of his stocks the day after the election, he could have enjoyed some nice returns!

tim in vermont said...

not to mention politicians who have been wrong about everything since the crisis hit.

I guess he means Obama and the Democrats who followed his advice to the letter.

Sebastian said...

"That strikes me as not merely anti-Trump but anti-Semitic." Makes sense. When the Muzzies are after you, take it out on the Jews.

Jim at said...

You know, for a guy with a fatwa on his head for the last 30 years, he sure seems to run his mouth a lot.

Ralph L said...

Finally got through the WaPo paywall. It sounds like he didn't like the book, not that I was going to read it, anyway.

Bruce Hayden said...

"I love that anti kind of Semitism where you hate your own famn damily."

That is the patent absurdity. The adult child of his who has an office in the White House is Jewish. Her Jewish husband also has an office there and is maybe Trump's closest advisor. The only ones who routinely travel with him. Their children are Jewish. Jered, the son-in-law, was at Trump's shoulder when they toured the West Wall - the only advisor the least bit close. He was also Trump's political brain, probably helping more than anyone else to win the election.

If you want antisemitism, you would much better look to the left, to the Democrats. Blacks and Muslims are probably the most antisemitic demographics in our country these days. Many of the most prominent Black civic leaders and politicians are on record spewing the sort of antisemitism that would get any Republican run out of their party. And a lot of Muslims are far worse. It is tolerated, by the Democrats, and their Jewish contingent, for the sake of the party and the power that comes from that.

My theory is that calling Trump antisemitic is to cause Democrat Jews (most of them) to rally around the party, as their cognitive dissonance gets progressively worse in this regard. I remember one discussion I had last spring with a Jewish friend who one minute was telling me how antisemitic Trump was, then the next telling me the rumors of which synagogue Jered and Ivanka were likely to join in DC. As I said - some of the worst cognitive dissonance I have ever encountered.

William Chadwick said...

Here's an interesting experiment: monitor which causes Rushdie more dire consequences: attacking Trump, or attacking Islam?

buwaya said...

Yet another man that mistakes a man for a phenomenon.

Rushdie was not so, well, narrow, in "Satanic Verses".

rcocean said...

Novelists usually aren't wise - or big, deep thinkers when it comes to politics.

rcocean said...

Regarding antisemitism and Trump. You know why Trump gets called an antisemite? Its because every-time he is, someone on the right takes the charge seriously and goes into a big "Let me reason with you" discussion about how Trump is not antisemitic.

The correct response to "Trump is an antisemite" is "fuck you" "so's your old man" and "Hillary is a child molester".

Kovacs said...

Maybe I'm missing something, but where in that review does it indicate that the characters are Jewish? And why would that description be anti-Semitic even if they were Jews? All it says is that they're rich, murky about their origins, and determined to remake themselves in America, a la Gatsby.

Char Char Binks said...

Why is "Golden" necessarily Jewish? According to Wikipedia, "Golden is a family name that can be of English, Jewish or Irish origin. It can be a variant spelling of Golding." Maybe Rushdie is calling Trump the Lord of the Flies.

johns said...

Leftist authors have an unbroken record of producing their absolute worst work when they go after hated Republicans. Mailer's "Why are we in Vietnam"; Philip Roth's "Our Gang"; various assassination fantasies; a play I saw during GWB's administration that had Karl Rove as a cartoon villain who tortured people; and on and on.
Can anyone think of an actually good literary take down of a right wing hate object?

tcrosse said...

Leftist authors have an unbroken record of producing their absolute worst work when they go after hated Republicans.

That would be Gore Vidal in his late maturity.

Lydia said...

The Golden family in the novel is from Bombay, so maybe something of a strain to read the choice of name and characteristics as being anti-Semitic?

Also, Rushdie has spoken out about the craziness in the Islamic Middle East as being the main thing happening there, and he's actually made pro-Israel comments.

Matthew Sablan said...

V for Vendetta thinks it is going after Thatcher, but really is going after a cartoon version of her. It isn't amazing, but it is solid.

Portlandmermaid said...

"Rushdie wouldn’t give him that satisfaction." That's so arrogant and childish. Does he believe Trump thinks about him at all?

Narayanan Subramanian said...

Why can't it be Soros?

mccullough said...

In the Great Gatsby, Gatsby's real last name was Gatz, but he was from North Dakota. So it strongly suggests he's of German ancestry, not Jewish. Also, his dad's name is Henry Gatz. It's possible that Rushdie still meant to use Gatz as a reference to Jews but he's off text in the reference.

We need to revive the Gatsby project

wildswan said...

Gatz, Gatsby - OK, there's the clue.

In the Satanic Verses the hero kept changing sacred texts a little bit altering their meaning. So we must assume The Golden House is a compendium of sacred cliches slightly altered. If we study the alteration we know the real meaning of this book. Without any effort I can see that this means that The Golden House is an attack on the Democrats, especially Obama but also Hillary, for their words are the only sacred texts in America. It SEEMS to be an attack on Trump but that is it's Satanic versusness. We don't have fatwas but I think a Twitter storm is indicated.

MAHGA [MAke Hillary Great Again]