Daily Archives: July 15, 2011

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

I finished Haroun and the Sea of Stories today. Thursday last week, the power went out at work. Now, I wasn’t there, but this still affected me. I was in Berkeley instead of Santa Clara. However, all the servers I wanted to work on were off. So, in my boredom, I plucked Haroun and the Sea of Stories from an ATDP bookshelf and read several chapters. I had never read anything by Rushdie before. I tweeted about how delightful it was, and I was amused that there was a character named Butt. (Later, there are two characters named Butt!)

I found myself wondering what happens next. I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish the book while sitting at the office, so I borrowed the book yesterday… and finished the book today.

Thanks for leaving the book there, Lloyd. It’s a very enchanting tale. I’ll return it on Monday and leave it for anyone else passing through.

Here was a passage I especially liked:

Iff replied that the Plentimaw Fishes were what he called ‘hunger artists’ — ‘Because when they are hungry they swallow stories through every mouth, and in their innards miracles occur; a little bit of one story joins on to an idea from another, and hey presto, when they spew the stories out they are not old tales but new ones. Nothing comes from nothing, Thieflet; no story comes from nowhere; new stories are born from old — it is the new combinations that make them new. So you see, our artistic Plentimaw Fishes really create new stories in their digestive systems…”

It reminded me of the Everything is a Remix* series by Kirby Ferguson.

Another passage makes a point about morals that’s very sophisticated for a kid’s story:

As for the Chupwalas, all of whom belonged to the Union of the Zipped Lips, and were the Cultmaster’s most devoted servants — well, Haroun kept being struck by how ordinary they were, and how monotonous was the work they had been given. There were hundreds of them in their Zipped Lips cloaks and hoods, attending to the tanks and cranes on the deck, performing a series of mindless, routine jobs: checking dials, tightening joints, switching the tanks’ stirring mechanisms on and off again, swabbing the decks. It was all as boring as could be; and yet — as Haroun kept having to remind himself — what these scurrying, cloaked, weaselly, scrawny, snivelling clerical types were actually up to was nothing less than the destruction of the Ocean of the Streams of Story itself! ‘How weird,’ Haroun said to Iff, ‘that the worst things of all can look so normal and, well, dull.’

Well, this isn’t exclusively a kid’s story. I think it can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. However, it is mostly written from the perspective of a child (though the child is not the narrator) and so it is very much written in the style of a children’s story.