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February 04, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

EAST, WEST by Salman Rushdie (Vintage: $11; 211 pp.). These stories of cultural clashes prove that Rushdie has not lost his sense of humor. In "Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies," a lovely young woman deflates a pompous old lecher with an irony worthy of O. Henry. The sudden appearance of a sacred relic introduces a regime of enforced piety into the otiose household of a wealthy capitalist in "The Prophet's Hair," a story that will not patch up his relationship with Islamists. Like the narrator of "The Courter," Rushdie could complain, "But I, too, have ropes around my neck, I have them to this day, pulling me this way and that, East and West, the nooses tightening, commanding, choose, choose."

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