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BOOKS

Heart of Darkness




Heart of Darkness

Salman Rushdie's fatwa memoir Joseph Anton will be out next week. The New Yorker carried a lengthy extract, which was both moving and riveting. When he was in hiding, the British Secret Service asked him to choose an alibi, a fake name. In his book, written in the third person, Rushdie tells us why he chose Joseph Anton. "He thought of writers he loved and tried combinations of their names. Vladimir Joyce. Marcel Beckett. Franz Sterne. He made lists of such combinations, but all of them sounded ridiculous. Then he found one that did not. He wrote down, side by side, the first names of Conrad and Chekhov, and there it was, his name for the next eleven years. Joseph Anton. . .  He had spent his life naming fictional characters. Now, by naming himself, he had turned himself into a sort of fictional character as well. Conrad Chekhov wouldn't have worked. But Joseph Anton was someone who might exist. Who now did exist. Conrad, the translingual creator of wanderers, of voyagers into the heart of darkness, of secret agents in a world of killers and bombs, and of at least one immortal coward, hiding from his shame;and Chekhov, the master of loneliness and of melancholy, of the beauty of an old world destroyed, like the trees in a cherry orchard, by the brutality of the new, Chekhov, whose Three Sisters believed that real life was elsewhere and yearned eternally for a Moscow to which they could not return : these were his godfathers now. It was Conrad who gave him the motto to which he clung, as if to a lifeline, in the long years that followed. In the now unacceptably titled The Nigger of the Narcissus, the hero, a sailor named James Wait, stricken with tuberculosis on a long sea voyage, is asked by a fellow-sailor why he came aboard, knowing that he was unwell. "I must live till I die - mustn't I?" Wait replies. In his present circumstances, the question felt like a command. "Joseph Anton, " he told himself, "you must live till you die. "

Dancing Tyson

I think fighting is for saps now, " he told reporters in Hong Kong. "I want to dance and sing. " Who would have thought that former boxing champion Mike Tyson would ever mouth these words? But this is exactly what he said. Tyson has been smitten by the arc lights of showbiz. A month after his one-man confessional show undisputed Truth finished its New York run, the former heavyweight boxer has declared his ambition to star in a musical. Now, he says, "I want to do some dancing and singing musicals. " After years of controversy, including three years in prison for rape at the peak of his career, the 46-year-old expressed his intention to "hang out and entertain". "I'm just so happy to become this guy, to be a responsible adult, " he added. The Guardian reports that Tyson has put on his dancing shoes before this, having taken to the floor to do a salsa routine with wife Lakiha Spicer on an Argentenian dance show last year. The report added: 'His singing, however, is a more uncertain commodity. Tyson delivered an out-of-tune rendition of Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight playing himself in The Hangover, and, in June, performed a faintly bizarre musical tribute to basketball star LeBron James on Jimmy Kimmel's television show. This summer Undisputed Truth followed its Las Vegas premiere with a Broadway run directed by Spike Lee, which extended from six to 12 performances, due to popular demand. One grudging review declared him "incapable of dullness".

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