Towards the end of Salman Rushdie’s memoir, we see the author at lunch in the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles with Christopher Hitchens and Warren Beatty. The movie star reveals that he has recently seen Rushdie with his girlfriend, Padma Lakshmi, whom he declares to be ‘so beautiful that it made me want to faint’. Rushdie suggests calling Lakshmi to tell her this exciting news and Beatty asks him to pass on a message: ‘Will you please tell her … that Warren Beatty is here and he thought she was so beautiful that it made him want to faint.’ Rushdie obliges: ‘I’m having lunch with Warren Beatty … and he says to tell you that he thinks you’re so beautiful that it makes him want to faint.’ Lakshmi agrees to join them and turns up ‘looking, of course, as if she might make Warren Beatty faint’.
Have we all got the point? Rushdie knows some very famous people, something he’s made clear more than once by the time this anecdote appears on page 615 of his doorstop of a book. (Joseph Anton, by the way, is the pseudonym he adopted during his years under police protection.)