Gritty 'Driven' tough as nails
Short, sharp guidance and observations from a journalist with attitude. All books available from Exclusives
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS WEEK
'Driven', by James Sallis (No Exit Press) R120
IF CAMUS wrote pulp, he'd read like Sallis; this is existentialist noir with poetic precision. The sequel to Drive (made into a good movie), this one sees anti-hero Driver forced to confront the violent life he thought he'd left behind. Gritty and tough as nails. See also The Killer is Dying.
IN AN interview in yesterday's Guardian to promote his memoir, Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie revealed that were he now to write a novel more critical of Islam than The Satanic Verses, it probably wouldn't be published.
"The refrain is: 'Oh dear, Muslims might be angry and we must respect them.' Not true. When people do the cowardly thing, it's not about respect, it's about fear."
"Joseph Anton" is the pseudonym he lived under for 13 years during the fatwa declared upon him by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. In that regard, Rushdie was not sure if The Satanic Verses controversy ended in victory or defeat; the book, he says, is still in print. "But," he added, "the fear and menaces have grown."
Rushdie also commented on the anti-US riots in the Middle East and the murder of the US ambassador to Libya in protest at Innocence of Muslims.
"The film is clearly a malevolent piece of garbage," he said.
"The civilised response would be to say of the director: 'F*** him. Let's get on with our day.' What's not civilised is to hold the US responsible for everything that happens in its borders. That's crap. Even if that were true, to respond with physical attacks and believe it's okay to attack people because you're upset at this thing, that's an improper reaction. The Muslim world needs to get out of that mindset."
SYLVIE Simmons' forthcoming I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (Jonathan Cape) is one of the holiday season's big reads. The New York Times has described it as a "mesmerising labour of love" and "the major, soul-searching biography" he deserves.
Simmons is particularly insightful about Hallelujah, one of Cohen's most powerful and erotic songs, and carefully unpicks its "multiplicity of positions", writing: "It is a song about the reasons for songwriting (to attract women; to please God) and about the mechanics of songwriting ('it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth ...'), about the power of the word and of the Word, about wanting sex, about having sex and about the war of the sexes. It is also a song about 'total surrender [and] total affirmation'."
"I TRIED to work up a little poetry [about] the ever restless spirit of man, the mysterious awe-inspiring wilderness of ice - but it was no good; I suppose it was too early in the morning." -- The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen, by Stephen Bown (Aurum)