Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies” is told in the third person, but it presents events from the point of view of Muhammad Ali. It is a short and deceptively simple tale that has only two main characters. Nevertheless, in a few pages and a sparse style, Salman Rushdie manages to present an ironic view of life in contemporary Pakistan.

Rushdie’s work is often characterized by the style known as Magical Realism, in which fantastic and wildly imaginative events occur within a realistic setting. Much of the effectiveness of this style lies in its ability to draw readers into accepting unlikely or impossible events as occurring in the normal course of daily affairs and in the surprises made possible by unexpected twists of plot. “Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies” owes its impact to the fact that its characters and its events stay on the level of realistic fiction, presenting nothing impossible or even out of the ordinary, while disrupting the ordinary world in a way that seems magical.

Muhammad Ali’s corrupt, sordid life is interrupted by the radiant young woman, and he finds himself unexpectedly changed. The advice that he gives her is good advice, based on the point of view that creates his reality. This point of view suddenly appears to be an illusion, though, along with much else in the story. Evil intentions are transformed into efforts to help. His efforts to help, seen from another angle, are rejected as illegal actions. In the...

(The entire section is 420 words.)