Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:58 am
It wasn't the fish heads poking out of the Stargazy Pie that stopped more than a few of our readers cold. It was the eyeballs.
"Not a lot of food nowadays has eyes; what's up with that?" one reader asked in commenting on a recent Salt post that featured a photo of the historic dish, which involves whole fish (eyes and all) poking out of a pie.
Whenever I think of the circus (which, admittedly, is rarely), the first thing that comes to mind is Bruce Davidson's famous photograph of a forlorn clown smoking a cigarette and clutching a fistful of wilted flowers in the mud outside a ratty circus tent. Fittingly, I first saw this striking image on the cover of Heinrich Boll's 1963 novel, The Clown. The titular protagonist isn't the creepy backyard children's entertainer we've come to associate with the form. He's troubled and high-strung, and sees himself first and foremost as an artist — and something of a mystic, to boot.
This is not the first time Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid has taken a risky approach to a novel. His The Reluctant Fundamentalist was written entirely in the second person. The bearded narrator of that book sits at a tea stall in Lahore, talking about his drift toward extremism while directly addressing "you," the reader, who is taken to be an increasingly jumpy and terrified American across the table.
Mohsin Hamid's newest novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, takes its structure from the genre of self-help tutorials. Chapter 1: Move to the City. Chapter 2: Get an Education. Chapter 3: Don't Fall in Love (the book's nameless protagonist, who transforms from rural peasant to corporate tycoon, fails to follow this last directive). After all, the dogged pursuit of success doesn't happen in a vacuum.