„If you’ve made it there, you’ll make it everywhere“ or so they say and I am inclined to agree.
We made it there alright… We arrived during the afternoon, add Jetlag to that and you know we had every excuse to hide in our hotelroom and watch TV. But there is one thing you need to know about New York: While it has many cultural highlights, the variety of TV programs offered in affordable hotel rooms is not one of them. But we wouldn’t have stayed in, anyways. How could we, when there’s New York … well, not exactly waiting for us, but it’s there. For the talking. Or for the walking. Or whatever. That is enough.
So we did, what every New York tourist does, when they come to town… We checked Time Out. And luck would have it, there was a free reading at a nearby Barnes & Nobles by … (insert Trommelwirbel)… Salman Rushdie.
I have never been a big fan, which basically means, that I have never read a single line by him and had no intention of changing this state of ignorance. But, come on. It was nearby, it was for free, we wanted to get out of the house anyways, so let’s go.
It was packed. You were told were to sit and to better sit still.
There was less police than could be expected, which is a good sign.
And, boy, was I wrong in my state of ignorance. Salman Rushdie was fun, intelligent and great in the question and answer part of the reading. He made the audience look good, even when they did ask some predictable to not so smart questions. (Please note, that your ever so smart yours truely did not manage to even ask a stupid question…) He managed to convey his experiences and views on religion and freedom without being hurtful or preaching or selfimportant.
Salman Rushdie was promoting his new book, his memoirs. He read some truely beautiful passages. If I may quote from memory:
My father inherited a fortune. He lived his life spending it. This could be the story of a happy life, but it isn’t.
I also really liked his interacting with the audience. When asked, who was his favourite Muslim writer, he answered something like this:
Muslim writers write about man and his relation to God. If you – like me – believe there is now God, than it tends to alter your relationship to him.
He went on namedropping many Arab but secular writers. Very well done, Mr. Rushdie! I am truely happy, that New York afforded me the chance to come and see for myself …
This blog will continue with some more literary experiences in New York: performing at the Nyorican Poetry Slam or atteding a reading by TC Boyle or meeting Swiss author and friend Christoph Simon. But it will do so tomorrow or later anyways.
For now let’s end with 24 fluid ounzes of thoughtfulness mixed with a huge dose of jetlag.