Salman Rushdie’s First Love Was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Goden House Author on 5 Books that Have Defined his Life
What was the first book you fell in love with?
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. Not just for the obvious reasons (rabbit hole; eat me / drink me; a grin without a cat; Mad Hatter, March Hare, Dormouse, no room, no room; soup of the evening, beautiful soup); but because I fell in love with Alice’s confidence. There she is, lost in Wonderland, constantly changing size, knowing nothing about her surroundings, and yet she’s so irresistibly opinionated, always telling people off and snapping her fingers at the might, you’re nothing but a pack of cards. My kind of girl.
Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
Never finished Middlemarch. Started it many times, tried to watch the long and meticulous British TV adaptation years ago, failed. Sorry. Something to do with the absence of any trace of humor. I understand however that this failure is my fault.
What’s the book you reread the most?
In recent years, Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow. For the beauty of the sentences, the brilliance of the vision, the seriousness of the mind, and the zany glory of the characters’ names (Von Humboldt Fleischer, Charlie Citrine, Rinaldo Cantabile).
Is there a book you wish you had written?
James Joyce’s Ulysses. Because then I could die happy. (Unlike Joyce.)
What’s the new book you’re most looking forward to?
The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks. I’m happy there’s this one last book from the astonishing mind of the mighty and sadly departed Oliver, whose writing I’ve loved ever since I heard about that man who mistook his wife for a hat.
The Golden House is available now from Random House. Photo by Syrie Moskowitz.