Deepika Bahri, a friend and an associate professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta, where Mr. Rushdie is a distinguished writer in residence, said that Mr. Rushdie was game for interacting online with any person or subject, highbrow or low. “I don’t think it really matters to him,” Ms. Bahri said, when asked how such behavior might affect public perception. “He does not fear or have concern about what people think or what it will do to his literary reputation.”
- Laura Holson, "From Exile To Everywhere," The NYT, Sunday Styles (emphasis mine)
"Everywhere," it seems, refers to Manhattan nightclubs and restaurants, not frequent flights to Atlanta, where Salman Rushdie is apparently "in residence."
This one isn't a "don't bother" because of the actual piece - like most Sunday/SunGay Styles articles, sure, it deals in trivialities, but it's not as bad as, say, building a makeup line off of the villains in The Hunger Games, or treating Kim Kardashian impersonators as art. No, what made me throw this one down was the subject of the article, Rushdie himself, who still, somehow, manages to garner this kind of coverage as if anything he's done literarily is remotely relevant or important. Even when The Satanic Verses was published, earning Mr. Rushdie death threats from fundamentlaist Islam (mostly Iran), Rushdie was more social butterfly than literary light; and time spent in hiding didn't particularly help ground him much better. But even the Times article notes that whole escapade ended after about ten years, and we're a good twenty years past that. And still, Rushdie is most notable for catting around with attractive women, frequenting nightclubs and bars, and vaguely talking about writing a new series for Showtime. And the difference between him and some other guy you run into on the Hotel Gansevoort rooftop? Not much, save that Rushdie is paid absurd sums to serve as things like "Distinguished Writer", no seriously... wait for it... "In residence" at Emory in Atlanta.
Of course, Emory is welcome to throw its money away in any way it sees fit, but I just feel bad for the actual students at Emory, who deserve better than some Page Six Publicity Monster who can't even be bothered to take terms like "in residence" seriously. And to be even fairer, this is hardly even one of the ten top reasons I'd never take Emory seriously, either (number one: Atlanta). None of which can be blamed on the Times, though it's hard to tell just how firmly Holson is relaying all of this seirously, or tongue in cheek. In either case, I couldn't be bothered to find out how this one turns out... because the thing really seems to write itself.