Amid ‘Satanic’ Panic, One ’80s Teen Discovered Rushdie’s Charms


Salman_RushdieSCOTT HUTCHINS on discovering Salman Rushdie: NPR

In 1980s Arkansas, one concern trumped all others: Satan. He whispered backwards on our rock albums. He possessed otherwise good people’s bodies and brought them to sin. His worshippers — it was honestly believed and confidently proclaimed — lived among us.

So when my stepmother opened our town’s first bookstore I was amazed by one book in particular: an infernal red and black volume called The Satanic Verses.

As was common with my stepmother’s many schemes, business and otherwise, I was quickly dragged in for cheap labor. I was informed I’d be working Saturdays, mostly by myself. In this case, I didn’t really mind. The bookstore appealed to my sense of the greater good — as well as my intellectual vanity.

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