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The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman…
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The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999)

by Salman Rushdie

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Another amazing novel by Rushdie. This one is a modern day version of the Greek myth about Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus, a musician, and Eurydice, a nymph were happily married when Eurydice steps on a poisonous snake and dies. Grieving Orpheus plays such sad and mournful music that the gods tell him to go to the Underworld and bring her back. He is told that he must not look back. He goes to retrieve her, but hearing her cries of anguish, he turns around and she is lost forever. In this modern day version, Orpheus is played by Ormus Cama, an Indian rock star, and Eurydice is Vina Aspara a pop American singer who leads a wild and decadent life - more of a nymphomaniac than a nymph. As with all of Rushdie's books, the prose is incredibly dense and he throws in many subtle allusions to modern day culture, current events, and the overall music industry. I love reading his books, but by the end of this book, I felt like I just completed a college course in the music industry with a touch of Greek mythology thrown in. Brilliant and exhausting. ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
I either love or hate Salman Rushdie. This book comes into the second category.

I'll never finish this book nor Haroun and the Sea of Stories, nor the Satanic Verses. Life is too short to plough through more than the first 50 pages if you haven't got into it by that stage. On the other though, I will probably reread Shame and Midnight's Children once in a while, I loved those books. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
I think Rushdie can be a bit daunting sometimes because he's really an intellectual through and through. He fills his writing with countless references to mythology and history in a way that I find rewarding but some may find difficult. Rushdie creates the story of a band and music that grows to epic proportions. We follow the story of Rai, a photographer who falls precariously in love with Vina in India while still very much a boy. He basically devotes his whole life to Vina and the language is so strong that by the end, you forget that these characters really are fictional and didn't exist. Ormus, who Vina is also in love with, immediately recalls Freddie Mercury of the band Queen, who has many similarities. The other really engaging thing about this novel is following the characters, especially Rai from India to England to America. The only weakness is how it ends but I can forgive Rushdie this error as the rest of the writing in the novel is incredibly strong. This was the second time I read this one. ( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
I wanted to like this more. The song by U2 (I think it was inspired by the novel) is great, even though I think most U2 is overrated. But, while I liked the plot well enough, I just don't care for Rushdie's writing style. He could have cut a lot out, and then I wouldn't have had to carry around this big, heavy book (even in paperback), and I would have enjoyed it more. ( )
  purplehena | Mar 31, 2013 |
Good, wacky, epic, thought-provoking storytelling. I suspect I liked it better than Midnight's Children, possibly because it was more playful and inviting.

Also, you can tell that Rushdie genuinely enjoys genre fiction, which I appreciate in literary authors who find themselves accidentally writing what amounts to fantasy literature.

The only thing I didn't really care for were the first fifty pages or so, before we really got to know the characters. They felt too over-the-top. The rest of the novel was over-the-top too, but the narrative had earned it. ( )
  raschneid | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
"Instead of turning the Orpheus legend into a compelling postmodern myth, Rushdie has simply freighted an old story with his favorite themes and the random detritus of our current celebrity culture. In trying to write what he has called "an everything novel," he has produced a strangely hollow book, a book that lacks both the specificity and the magic that have enlivened his best work in the past. "
added by GYKM | editNew York Times, Michiko Kakutani (Apr 13, 1999)
 
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Epigraph
"Set up no stone to his memory:

Just let the rose bloom each year for his sake.

For it is Orpheus. His metamorphosis

into this and that. We should not trouble

about other names. Once and for all

it's Orpheus when there's singing."

~ R [ainer] M[aria] Rilke _Sonnets To Orpheus_ translated by M.D. Herter Norton
Dedication
For Milan
First words
On St. Valentine’s Day, 1989, the last day of her life, the legendary popular singer Vina Aspara woke sobbing from a dream of human sacrifice in which she had been the intended victim.
Quotations
The photographer must be a thief, must steal instants of other people's time to make his own tiny eternities.
In the end, there's always an honest Injun somewhere, if you can find him. Even in Inja.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312254997, Paperback)

The ground shifts repeatedly beneath the reader's feet during the course of Salman Rushdie's sixth novel, a riff on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the high-octane world of rock & roll. Readers get their first clues early on that the universe Rushdie is creating here is not quite the one we know: Jesse Aron Parker, for example, wrote "Heartbreak Hotel"; Carly Simon and Guinevere Garfunkel sang "Bridge over Troubled Water"; and Shirley Jones and Gordon McRae starred in "South Pacific." And as the novel progresses, Rushdie adds unmistakable elements of science fiction to his already patented magical realism, with occasionally uneven results.

Rushdie's cunning musician is Ormus Cana, the Bombay-born founder of the most popular group in the world. Ormus's Eurydice (and lead singer) is Vina Apsara, the daughter of a Greek American woman and an Indian father who abandoned the family. What these two share, besides amazing musical talent, is a decidedly twisted family life: Ormus's twin brother died at birth and communicates to him from "the other side"; his older brothers, also twins, are, respectively, brain-damaged and a serial killer. Vina, on the other hand, grew up in rural West Virginia where she returned home one day to find her stepfather and sisters shot to death and her mother hanging from a rafter in the barn. No wonder these two believe they were made for each other.

Narrated by Rai Merchant, a childhood friend of both Vina and Ormus, The Ground Beneath Her Feet begins with a terrible earthquake in 1989 that swallows Vina whole, then moves back in time to chronicle the tangled histories of all the main characters and a host of minor ones as well. Rushdie's canvas is huge, stretching from India to London to New York and beyond--and there's plenty of room for him to punctuate this epic tale with pointed commentary on his own situation: Muslim-born Rai, for example, remarks that "my parents gave me the gift of irreligion, of growing up without bothering to ask people what gods they held dear.... You may argue that the gift was a poisoned chalice, but even if so, that's a cup from which I'd happily drink again." Despite earthquakes, heartbreaks, and a rip in the time-space continuum, The Ground Beneath Her Feet may be the most optimistic, accessible novel Rushdie has yet written. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:47 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The romance of two Indian musicians who form a band. He is Ormus, a composer, she is Vina, an American-raised singer, and their romance plays out across continents, parallel universes and different lives-- she dying and returning for a second life.

» see all 4 descriptions

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