Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

When Skateboards Will Be Free - Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Said Sayrafiezadeh was the third child of two members of the Socialist Workers Party who grew up living alone with his mother following the departure of his Iranian father. But what kind of childhood do you have when your mother is a committed communist and you live in capitalist, imperialist USA? The answer - a childhood filled with protest marches, self-denial of consumer goods, a series of dilapated homes, no grapes or skateboards and a ingrained ability to trot out the party line.

Once Said asked for a skateboard - a measly $11 skateboard. His mother did not buy him one because when the revolution came all skateboards would be free. That little story is the essence of this sad, miserable tale of a childhood dominated by the author's parents political manifestos. His mother's bookshelves were lined with the entire works of the Communist canon but they never had been read. Late in life, as he relates a conversation with his girlfriend, he realises that he cannot distinguish between Communism and Socialism, although political slogans are branded into his brain. Ironically he now works for the Marta Steward corporate empire, somewhat at odds with the political ideas of his childhood.

A large portion of the book is devoted to the author's father, a mathematics professor who left the States to return to Iran where he attempted to spread the socialist work and who was a candidate for the Iranian presidency following the departure of the Shah. He comes across as an uncaring man who only infrequently communicates with his son.

Ultimately though, you feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for Said and indeed for his mother. Late in her life, she makes the enornmous decision to leave the Socialist party, but it is clear to see that life has passed her by and she appears as a tragic, lonely figure. In fact the whole memoir (subtitled A Memoir of a Political Childhood) is incredibly poignant. There is a dark humour present, but overall it is quite grim.

1 comment

caite said...

I think you liked it more than I did...I missed the humor, dark or any other sort, but it certainly was grim.

I will have my review up tomorrow..

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