“You of all boys should know that Man is the Storytelling Animal, and that in stories are his identity, his meaning and his lifeblood. Do rats tell tales? Do porpoises have narrative purposes? Do elephants ele-phantize? You know as well as I do that they do not. Man alone burns with books.” (Luka and the Fire of Life, Salmon Rushdie)
Reading Luka and the Fire of Life is like peeking through a keyhole into Salmon Rushdie’s relationship with his son. It’s an enjoyable read, with lots of Rushdie’s edgy tone and word mastery, but there is no denying that this was a book written for one particular person on the planet, and the rest of us simply get to watch.
Luka reminds me a lot of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, also written specifically for his son. Many authors publish their books in the hope of finding just a handful of perfect readers for it, who will love it, understand it, and be changed by it, but Rushdie and Milne were lucky enough to already know their perfect audience from the get-go, and this changed the way they wrote considerably. Luka is an excellent story, and particularly good for ten to twelve year old boys with a penchant for both video games and mythology, but don’t be surprised if Rushdie’s talk about left-handedness or Dog, the bear, and Bear, the dog, make you question whether you’re in the midst of an inside-joke.
Beverage: This spicy novel calls for some chai, but make sure not to dampen the loud flavors with too much milk and honey, or else the beverage won’t match the book at all!
Note: Even if you don’t read this book, you should make a point of glancing at the cover sometime; the digital image does not do justice to it’s shimmering golds and deep blues.