June 21, 2007

Just So We're Clear

I've read just enough of Salman Rushdie's work to know there are things I like about it and things I don't. I've promised myself I'll tackle Midnight's Children, which I'm told is his best, someday, but I'll leave debate on the merits or otherwise of The Satanic Verses to anyone who's actually been able to finish reading it. (Which would not, I suspect, include most of its Islamist critics, who like the fundamentalists that despise Life of Brian rely exclusively on divine revelation. It's popularly supposed that God, or Allah if you prefer, has read and seen everything.)

But yo! clerics: could you chill just a little? Comedians kill, reviewers don't, and even comedians don't usually kill literally. When they do it's rarely job related.

I know Harold Pinter's ouevre fairly well. Solid enough body of work--shame he gave up writing in 1975. Who knows what he might have produced in his later years if he'd kept at it. I thought a Nobel for Pinter was ridiculous and deplorable when to the best of my knowledge Peter Barnes and Dennis Potter were never nominated, and for a dead cert never R.A. Lafferty. Alasdair Gray? he's still alive, so there's time to rectify the omission in his case. But Nobel Committee! This is a man in his 70s in a country where the life expectancy of males is somewhere around the mid 50s. Time's a-wasting!

But let me make this perfectly clear: I do not think suicide bombing would be a reasonable response to the extreme and tactless provocation of honouring an inferior writer with such a prize while ignoring so many others who are manifestly his superiors. I think a few symbolic shots, fired from a tower, not aimed to hit anyone, into Oslo's main square would be quite enough. In all things I favour moderation.

C 2007 Martin Heavisides

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