The Islamic extremists who swore to assassinate Salman Rushdie after the release of his ostensibly blasphemous The Satanic Verses may have failed at their appointed task, but the erstwhile fatwah was not ineffective. While Rushdie the man remains alive and active, his artistic reputation has been forever corrupted by the threat on his life. No longer considered simply a brilliant, award-winning writer, Rushdie is now yet another celebrity who's famous for reasons outside of his work. That's too bad, as Rushdie remains an almost unparalleled master of language. With the international ire of the militant Muslim right in mind, those unfamiliar with Rushdie might be surprised at how funny and modern his books are. No dry theological reads, Rushdie's works are merely divine comedies, and The Ground Beneath Her Feet finds the author in top form. The book serves as a romantic retelling of the Orpheus myth, a sharp deconstruction of pop culture, and an interesting stab at unraveling the myth of rock 'n' roll from Rushdie's Southeast Asian perspective. From Bombay to Britain to New York, the book tells of the epic love affair between rock star Vina Apsara—Rushdie's Eurydice—and her Orpheus, songwriter Ormus Cana. With few exceptions, great writers who tackle pop music tend to come across as silly, as if the subject matter isn't quite up to their literary standards. Rushdie, who may be spending a bit too much time with his buddy Bono, treats rock music with the irreverence it deserves, rewriting the history of the genre's rise by basing its beginnings in India rather than America. That certainly explains how his Madonna-like pop star has attained international fame despite her Eastern origin: Most Indian pop music is terrible bubblegum, so it is with perverse joy that Rushdie bends the rules of rock to suit his purposes. Like his classic Midnight's Children, The Ground Beneath Her Feet uses an almost cubist approach to narrative: Its voice, a photographer named Rai Merchant, struggles to reconcile flashback and forward-motion, resulting in a story that takes two steps back for every step forward. The rambling, restless prose is an indulgent Rushdie trademark, as is the frequent invasion of magical realism, but for the most part, The Ground Beneath Her Feet remains an accessible read that rewards patience.