Today’s birthday boy is Salman Rushdie, born June 19, 1947 (not 1974, as the Paris Review had it). Rushdie is responsible for one of the truly great novels, Midnight’s Children, one truly awful controversy, over The Satanic Verses, and several more very good works and a clunker or two. It’s bad when the semi-literate set themselves up as literary critics, terrible when they can issue fatwas. Like Joyce, his brilliance can sometimes make your head hurt. But that might be because he can take your breath away.