Luka's father, storyteller Rashid Khalifa, the "Shah of Blah," is Asleep, lost in his own world and, growing weaker by the moment, unresponsive to anyone around him. His twelve-year-old son must enter the World of Magic with Bear, the dog, and Dog, the bear, in a desperate effort to find what will bring his father back to Reality.
"Luka and the Fire of Life" ($15 in paperback from Random House; also available in Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and Google eBook formats) is Sir Salmon Rushdie's follow-up to "Haroun and the Sea of Stories." Left-handed Luka is Haroun's younger brother, and now it is his time to enter the world which exists "in parallel with our own non-Magic one."
Here are the sources of "White Magic, Black Magic, dreams, nightmares, stories, lies, dragons, fairies, blue-bearded genies, mechanical mind-reading birds, buried treasure, music, fiction, hope, fear, the gift of eternal life, the angel of death, the angel of love, interruptions, jokes, good ideas, rotten ideas, happy endings, in fact almost everything of any interest at all."
But the keepers of the World of Magic cannot abide the upending of the flow of Time that imagination wreaks on their precious Order of Things. Luka is almost vanquished, but one must never discount one's friends, especially if they have a magic carpet.
The Order of Things in our Real World is not so sunny, either. As part of Chico State University's President's Lecture Series, Rushdie will speak on "Public Events, Private Lives: Literature and Politics in the Modern World." The presentation is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the university's Laxson Auditorium. Tickets are available online (ChicoPerformances.com), through walk-up at the University Box Office (corner of 2nd St. & Normal Ave.), or by phone (530-898-6333). Premium tickets are $40; Adults $35; Seniors $33 and Students/Children $25.
Nobodaddy, Luka's nemesis, the being sucking the life from his father, is clear that the tale is not just a story. "You of all boys should know that Man is the Storytelling Animal, and that in stories are his identity, his meaning, and his lifeblood. Do rats tell tales? Do porpoises have narrative purposes? Do elephants ele-phantasize? You know as well as I do that they do not. Man alone burns with books."