Monday, January 5, 2009

They no longer matter.

Current book: Midnight's Children
Pages read: 189-254

Are you ready for my incredible discovery of the day? You might think you are, but you're actually not. That's how incredible it is. Midnight's Children is actually X-Men! It turns out that the title doesn't refer only to Saleem and India, but actually to all of the children born between midnight and 1 am on the fateful morn of India's independence. (Yes, morn. I warned you about the diction.) And, even better, these children all have magical (I'm not saying mutant, but I'm thinking it) powers, such as walking through reflective surfaces, changing gender by jumping into water, and, in Saleem's case, mind-reading. No really, how is this not X-Men? Are you guys with me on this?

Anyway, so I'm actually kind of excited about this whole turn of events, and the plot in general is improving, too. We're getting coherent stories of Saleem's childhood now, and I'm beginning to appreciate the characters more (or Rushdie's fleshing them out more - however you want to look at it. I prefer the cynical way. Always.) now that we've stopped jumping around from generation to generation every dozen pages or so. At the same time as the characters are developing, we're getting some sense of what's going on with the Indian populace - especially as it relates to class. Saleem keeps getting himself into situations in which his status as a rich Muslim is a danger to his very existence. I feel like I'm learning some things about the tensions between rich and poor in India and how those tensions relate to religion, which is pretty interesting. There's a huge emphasis on light and dark skin, too, and the association of light skin with money and power (and Britishness - there's an allegorical skin disease that all of the Indian businessmen are suffering from that turns them white. Not exactly subtle, but it does make the point.) that I'd sort of forgotten about it. Of course, I have to take it with a grain of salt, since it's both fiction and a quarter of a century out-of-date, but nonetheless.

Aside from developing astonishing telepathic powers and discovering the existence of the rest of the gifted children of midnight, not a whole lot has happened to Saleem. He did get in several bicycle accidents, and we got to hear about him using his telepathic power to cheat at school. (I challenge anyone to deny that they would do the same - especially in math. Stupid math.) There's sort of a sense of foreboding about how the children of midnight are going to use their powers, also - it seems, according to Saleem, at least, that they have a tendency toward selfishness and perhaps even evil. I'm actually sort of intrigued.

On a separate note, I was talking to my mother on the phone today, and she told me she'd once imagined how fascinating it would be if everyone in the world had a room full of all of the books they'd ever read, and how much that would reveal about their characters. I have to agree. I'm a little obsessed with imagining my own such room now, and I'd dearly love to walk around and look at them all. I can't even imagine how many I've forgotten.


  1. Oh man, that's so awesome. Except, I don't think Ranma counts as an X-Man.

  2. My room would be embarrassingly full of chick lit and trashy romances. Probably for the best that it doesn't actually exist.

  3. I have such a room. It informs the visitor that I am a trashy theory junkie with an affinity for obscure speculative fiction and sexually charged post-WWI fiction.



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