"As if" in Rushdie's latest

Ken Miller bookrat at BOOKRAT.COM
Mon Aug 16 02:40:03 UTC 1999

When did "as if!" as a sarcastic retort come into general usage?

I tend to associate it (and the related "what*ever*!") with the _Clueless_
generation (the movie title, not a dig at that generation).

So here's a scene from Salman Rushdie's _The Ground Beneath Her Feet_.  The
setting is mid-1940s Bombay (relived in a flashback), and the narrator's
mother has just built a soaring sand castle, or sand building:

"'Skyscraper,' she named it.  'How'd you like to own a penthouse at the
top?'  Skywhatter?  Where was a penthouse pent?  These were words I did not
know.  I found myself disliking them: the words, and the building to which
they belonged.  Besides, I was bored and wanted to swim.

"'Looks like a big matchbox to me.'  I shrugged.  'Live in it?  As if.'"

Somehow, this sounds a little anachronistic to me.  But what do I know?

(This is not a quibble about the book itself, which I am reading with great

Ken Miller
Partridge School of Gentle Arts

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