Some parts science fiction and some parts philosophy approach the novel Grimus by Salmon Rushdie. It is the first time I approached the man since reading Haroun and the Sea of Stories in high school and I was not let down.
The book jumped out at me from a sales rack in a closing-down Borders, RIP.
In true magical realist form, Rushdie gives us a series of events that we must accept as nothing short of fact. Multi-dimensional beings, immortal humans and a secret island only accessible through a break in space time (LOST fans hooked yet?) are all given to us in stride as we slowly unlock the epic of Flapping Eagle.
Given a serum by a fellow named Sispy that makes him immortal, Flapping Eagle struggles to find Calf Island and the man Grimus. It is his race to be the creator of his death that turns into a pre-destined journey in the making since the beginning of time. That is the premise, but the book sends roots much deeper in a multitude of directions.
Time is hard to pin down. There is no actual real-world equivalent to the time or places in the book, but it is all familiar. Glimpses of what we know.
The novel is not overly dense, but in order to really appreciate the world Rushdie makes for us, it is best read on vacation or during a period when you are not away from the story for long. It is a rich text that touches on the religious, philosophical, and cosmological all at once.
More than once during the story I found myself looking out at the world around me and feeling a distance. I felt the dimensional shift, somehow the world was a backdrop, a prop and I was the only real thing I knew. The book does that.
Grimus is Rushdie’s first novel and while it was largely overlooked by critics, it is still a book worth reading. LOST fans especially will appreciate this novel.