The overwhelming feeling after reading this book is of an immense waste - of the reader's time, of the writer's undoubted talent and of the multitude of pages on which its printed, which could have been put to much better use. Right from the start, it seems like a pointless book. This feeling remains & intensifies throughout the book and at the end, is confirmed beyond doubt.
The story is about a man in the grip of fury (the reason for which we aren't given until almost the end, and that reason, to me at least, is not convincing enough). Anyway, he has become a threat to those he loves and so just takes off to another continent (without so much as a goodbye to his wife and son), where he tries to undo his old self, hoping that whatever is wrong with him will be destroyed along with his old identity. The book chronicles his efforts to defeat his furies with the help of the people he encounters.
So, not a wholly stupid plot. What makes it bad is the unbelievably bad writing. Sometimes its hard to believe this is the same guy who wrote 'The Moor's Last Sigh'. There is no continuing thread through the story. It frequently runs off on tangents and doesn't bother to rejoin the main theme. Rushdie's books usually need a lot of patience and I've become quite patient reading his books, waiting for the point to appear out of the fog of fancy words and tedious abstractions; but with this book it was a hopeless exercise because there is no point to it.
Even more unforgivable than the bad writing is the fact that the story seems forced, somehow. As if the writer's publishers told him to come up with something quickly and he started writing about the first thing that came to his mind without bothering about plots, themes, coherence and all the other things that make a decent book, trusting his reputation to ensure it would be accepted, even acclaimed. And sadly, it worked. Reading the reviews, you'd think this was a masterpiece. When in actual fact, it could be the worst book Rushdie has ever written ('Shame' was depressing, but at least it was well-written). This is just an ego-trip of sorts, most evident by the resemblance of the protagonist to the author himself, and the tiring fact that rather than battling his furies, he seems to be spending too much time encountering stunningly beautiful women with all of whom he has his way.
In the end I'm left salvaging what little good I can from this disaster of a book. The only thing I come up with is this line - 'Do not contemplate what lies beyond failure while you are still trying to succeed!'
Not so much a bad book, as an unnecessary one!