Amardeep Singh offers a report of Salman Rushdie at the New York Google audiences. Mr. Rushdie, who has refused interview requests for The Bat Segundo Show for his last two novels (no fault of the publicists here, I should note, but it’s safe to say that Mr. Rushdie will not be asked a third time; there are easily ten million more things that I would rather do than massage an author’s fragile ego), nevertheless believes in the Internet, which he used for his research. But he apparently doesn’t believe in the Internet enough to sign on for the Google Books project, which “could destroy the publishing industry.” Of course, he’s happy to sign on for Google Books if the authors are fairly compensated for their work. So the upshot is this: if the Internet (or anything for that matter) serves Mr. Rushdie’s purpose, well then it’s all fine and dandy for Mr. Rushdie! For in Mr. Rushdie’s head, it’s all about Mr. Rushdie all the time! (And has Rushdie ever spared a thought for Hitoshi Igarashi, who was knifed to death for translating The Satanic Verses? Or the British taxpayers who paid his £10 million tax bill to provide security for him?) Is there a single brain cell in Mr. Rushdie’s noggin devoted to another person in the universe? Is his talent worth enduring his solipsism? I think not. There are cutthroat lawyers I know with more empathy.
What the hell is going on at the Observer? It appears the paper has been filling up its pages with Livejournal entries written by cynical singles. What next? The print equivalent of live-blogging the season finale for some major television show? I’ve complained long and loud about the vapid articles within the New York Times Sunday Styles section, but the Observer now makes the Gray Lady look like a depository for Kenneth Tynan-style sophistication.