Welcome to my blog Upstate Girl, (a.k.a Follow Your Bliss Part II), I am an independently published author. This blog is all about writing and the stuff that inspires me to write, the joys and obstacles that come along with the writer's life, and my fascination with the psychology of people and what makes them tick...the human condition, as is...and my love for words, playing with them and making sense of them...and I throw in a few photos from my acre of the world just to make things pretty...sometimes there are things I have no words for, only pictures will do.

*Copyright notice* All photos, writing, and artwork are mine (
© Laura J. Wellner), unless otherwise noted, please be a peach, if you'd like to use my work for a project or you just love it and must have it, message me and we'll work out the details...it's simple...JUST ASK, please.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

…an Unthinkable Thing happened: Rashid Khalifa, the legendary Ocean of Notions, the fabled Shah of Blah, stood up in front of a huge audience, opened his mouth, and found he had run out of stories to tell. – from page 22, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie

I came to this book via my Fred, who is taking a class in which this book happens to be on the textbook list—he passed it on to me when he finished it. From the first paragraph, I loved it—let me tell you what I discovered during my journey to there and back again. This is a book to be read with a light heart and with no set parameters—the delightful wordplay and singsong rhythm of the prose made me laugh a good deal. It reminded me of Dr. Seuss stories so much that in my mind I was able to construct a fantastical landscape, populate it with the wonderful creatures and people described, brightly colored as traditional Indian Folk Art (just Google Mithila Painting to see what I mean.) It is a story about storytelling. It is a fairy tale in the tradition of all fairy tales, an allegory full of the tallest of stories that hit home so true—ideas, freedom, the importance of storytelling and imagination. As it was written during the time Rushdie spent in hiding, it is a very revealing narrative about freedom of expression. A father losing his ability to tell stories due to upsetting personal circumstances and because of this temporary lapse in his ability and desire to do so, someone official decided to turn off his “subscription” to the Story Water supply from the Great Story Sea—my goodness, that’s worse than writer’s block.

What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?

This peculiar question is raised by an outside character of dubious intentions and is the initial cause of this situation for the storyteller. It’s always odd when I run up against someone who thinks that way—it makes my heart hurt because that’s a person who is missing a valuable resource in life—imagination—the ability to suspend belief for just a little while to enjoy a story. I could never figure out why it was such a crime to ‘make up’ a story—lying to get out of trouble is a different thing entirely, telling a story for its entertainment value is completely different, but somehow it’s believed by some to be dishonest. There have been many books over the years that have caused a fuss for one reason or another, sometimes they strike a chord in people so sharply that it pisses them off to no end—some of our greatest stories are smuggled out of places where they are forbidden. The way I see it from my size 6 ½’s, that’s somethin’ special when a story causes a ruckus—oh, well, you can’t please everybody.

When writing fiction, pen to paper, from the first word onward, out there beyond the fringe of the known world is the place labeled “here, there be dragons!” It is a magical experience to make up stories—it is a gift that an author is fortunate to have, and a gift for the reader who is fortunate to receive it.

Having some knowledge of Indian mythology and culture might be to the reader’s advantage coming into this story, but it’s not a necessary requirement to read this book, it’s accessible language has an endearing quality that is as comfortable as a bedtime story for a child—magical and surreal—exotic and dream-like. It is comprised of a good many familiar elements, classic literary references to Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, One Thousand and One Nights, it also reminded me of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a little bit. Then there is a Beatles song I Am the Walrus happily tucked into the mix with the characters the Eggheads and the Walrus who are the inventors of the Processes too Complicated to Explain (P2C2E)—and of course, Dr. Seuss.

It’s loads of fun, it’s priceless and timeless, I adore it.

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