“Concerning the Bodyguard” by Donald Bartheleme is a short story told only as a series of questions. But, it’s not all as it appears to be. There is a hidden deeper meaning that tells a story. You could read the story, or if you to really have fun list to the podcast of the story read by Salman Rushdie for the New Yorker. If you click on this link, you can read or listen to a number of articles a month for free. In the past all the New Yorker Podcasts about Fiction were free to read. 😦
The first time I heard the story (read by Rushdie), I had not read the story. But afterwards I found and read the story, and over time I began to figure out the clues that create a more complex story. If you listen to Salman Rushdie talking about it also you will get more clues. The bodyguard seems to be more of chauffeur, as his job is mainly driving the man around. He never has to fight off bad guys as one would think, that is the job of a bodyguard.
Salman Rushdie is a great writer, but his biography (Joseph Anton: A Memoir ) leaves much to be desired. Written in third person, it is one of the most horrible books, I read/ listened to on audible. I could not even finish it. It was both boring and depressing at the same time. I was curious to learn about how Salman Rushdie had a Fatwa which is an order of death placed on him for written the book called The Satanic Verses in 1988.
I have not yet read The Satanic Verses, but it’s not that terrible a book. The only issue appears to be using the names of the wives of Mahmoud in an unclean way. But, if he had omitted that, the overall book may not have been so offensive. It is the story of two men. One represents God and one Satan. I am not really sure about that, but I trying to boil it down fast and easy. The God man gets killed, I believe, but the Satan man changes and becomes a good man. But, I don’t think it is something I would read. I did read and enjoy a few of Salman Rushdie story stories in the New York, but I have never finished one of the novels.
The story made me look into other words by Donald Bartheleme, but as Salman Rushdie points out on the podcast his other works are so strange that they can not be understood. Like Finnegans Wake which we discussed earlier on this blog, the stories can not be understood. I don’t know if there exists any books or articles to explain the stories, but one could try looking for them if one was interested. I also started to read Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme but the author was only a vague acquaintance of Donald Barthelme, and the book did not have much insight.