Tuesday, October 4, 2005

A chat with Salman Rushdie

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chat with novelist Salman Rushdie. He dropped by the store where I work to sign copies of his new book, Shalimar the Clown. In the course of our conversation, I asked him about the name of one of the characters in the new novel, Maximilian Ophuls. Rushie said it was based on the once famous director, Max Ophuls. At first, Rushdie recounted, he adopted the name because of its  blending of the German and the French. Later in the writing process, he said he intended to change the character's name - but, as Rushdie put it, "the character wouldn't let me."

Rushdie is obviously a film buff. In the course of our conversation, the author spoke of Ophuls' work, and mentioned the titles of a number of the director's films dating from the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. Rushdie has also written a long essay on The Wizard of Oz, which was published in a book on the film. And in The Ground Beneath Her Feet, his 1999 novel, Rushdie wrote, " . . . by the emerging gay icon lil dagover, who insists on lower-case initials, wears men's suits and a monocle and a Louise Brooks haircut, and plays like an expressionist dream."

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