“The death of Don Quixote felt like the extinction in all of us of a special kind of beautiful foolishness, an innocent grandeur, a thing for which the world had no place, but which one might call humanity.”
Quichotte by Salman Rushdie is a delightful modern retelling of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. It’s absurdly funny, poignantly sad, and a frightening warning for everyone on the planet to get their act together just in case the level of insanity Rushdie has created turns out to be on the horizon.
The two storylines— the tale of Quichotte’s quest to win the love of a TV star with the assistance of his imaginary son Sancho, and the tale of the mediocre writer of spy thrillers, Sam DuChamp, who created him— are brilliantly woven, complex and demand the full attention of the reader. My advice: do not read this book when tired. Not because it’s a difficult read, but because the twists and turns of the parallel storylines, which share many similarities, possess a Soap Opera-esque quality that can make your mind spin. I needed to pause several times to remind myself about which storyline I was in. But what surprised me more was how delighted I was about the need to do so. It’s been a while since I read a story that made me feel as if my synapses were growing sharper in the process. The writer-me definitely needs to revisit these pages to deconstruct the plot.
And perhaps, because I am a writer, the most exciting element of the story was the Quest: the journey to attain something that appears absolutely impossible— if not a total waste of time— in the eyes of anyone other than the pursuer. A Quest is what we all hope to find in our lives, isn’t it? A mission, born of love, that keeps our pilot light on.
Writing is my Quest. I’m not talking about getting published. Landing an agent and a book deal will be lovely. I am exploring that avenue. But publishing is a bonus not a quest. The reason I return to my writing desk day after day is to figure out the best way to drop the effort. To find an easy way to work, so whatever I write flows straight from my heart to the heart of readers.
Some days the Quest feels impossible, but like Quichotte, I’m willing to rededicate myself again and again because impossible dreams are worth the struggle.
What books have inspired you to rededicate yourself to your dreams?