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Saturday, December 22, 2012

'Haroun and the Sea of Stories,' by Salman Rushdie

In 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories,' young Haroun's mother, Soraya, runs off with their upstairs neighbor, Mr. Sengupta, and that leaves Haroun's father, Rashid, a professional storyteller, unable to tell stories anymore. Rashid calls out that he cancels his service. Haroun is awakened in the middle of the night by strange sounds coming from his bathroom, finds a Water Genie named Iff, and learns that his father had received his stories from an invisible tap connected to the Sea of Stories. Iff has come to disconnect Rashid, per Rashid's request. This starts Haroun's adventures with the Sea of Stories.

I relished the opening paragraph, "There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue."

I valued the creativity evidenced in the story. In addition to a character named Iff, there's a character named Butt. There are plentimaw fish in the sea (a play on 'plenty more' and many mouths). I appreciated the story-plea for freedom of speech. I enjoyed the speech pattern of many of the characters (especially the mail coach driver, and Mr. Snooty Buttoo).

I did not, however, come to care deeply about the characters. I am left to wonder why. Was there something wrong with me as the reader? Something lacking in the book? Was I supposed to care deeply about the characters?

I can't exactly bring myself to recommend this book, but I would not recommend against it, and I would permit my children to read it.

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