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WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE by Said Sayrafiezadeh (Excerpt)

WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE by Said Sayrafiezadeh (Excerpt)

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4.75

(159)
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Enjoy this excerpt from Said Sayrafiezadeh's WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE, on sale 3/24/09

With a profound gift for capturing the absurd in life, and a deadpan wisdom that comes from surviving a surreal childhood in the Socialist Workers Party, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh has crafted an unsentimental, funny, heartbreaking memoir.

Saïd’s Iranian-born father and American Jewish mother had one thing in common: their unshakable conviction that the workers’ revolution was coming. Separated since their son was nine months old, they each pursued a dream of the perfect socialist society. Pinballing with his mother between makeshift Pittsburgh apartments, falling asleep at party meetings, longing for the luxuries he’s taught to despise, Said waits for the revolution that never, ever arrives. “Soon,” his mother assures him, while his long-absent father quixotically runs as a socialist candidate for president in an Iran about to fall under the ayatollahs. Then comes the hostage crisis. The uproar that follows is the first time Saïd hears the word “Iran” in school. There he is suddenly forced to confront the combustible stew of his identity: as an American, an Iranian, a Jew, a socialist... and a middle-school kid who loves football and video games.

Poised perfectly between tragedy and farce, here is a story by a brilliant young writer struggling to break away from the powerful mythologies of his upbringing and create a life—and a voice—of his own. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s memoir is unforgettable.

Visit www.Sayrafiezadeh.com
Enjoy this excerpt from Said Sayrafiezadeh's WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE, on sale 3/24/09

With a profound gift for capturing the absurd in life, and a deadpan wisdom that comes from surviving a surreal childhood in the Socialist Workers Party, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh has crafted an unsentimental, funny, heartbreaking memoir.

Saïd’s Iranian-born father and American Jewish mother had one thing in common: their unshakable conviction that the workers’ revolution was coming. Separated since their son was nine months old, they each pursued a dream of the perfect socialist society. Pinballing with his mother between makeshift Pittsburgh apartments, falling asleep at party meetings, longing for the luxuries he’s taught to despise, Said waits for the revolution that never, ever arrives. “Soon,” his mother assures him, while his long-absent father quixotically runs as a socialist candidate for president in an Iran about to fall under the ayatollahs. Then comes the hostage crisis. The uproar that follows is the first time Saïd hears the word “Iran” in school. There he is suddenly forced to confront the combustible stew of his identity: as an American, an Iranian, a Jew, a socialist... and a middle-school kid who loves football and video games.

Poised perfectly between tragedy and farce, here is a story by a brilliant young writer struggling to break away from the powerful mythologies of his upbringing and create a life—and a voice—of his own. Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s memoir is unforgettable.

Visit www.Sayrafiezadeh.com

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Publish date: Mar 30, 2010
Added to Scribd: Mar 12, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/21/2013

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the dial press
 
saïd sayrafiezadeh
WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE
a memoir of a political childhood
 
 when skateboards will be free
 A Dial Press Book / April 2009Published by The Dial Press A Division of Random House, Inc.New York, New York  All rights reservedCopyright © 2009 by Saïd SayrafiezadehPortions of this book appeared in different form in
Granta
.Book design by Ginger LegatoThe Dial Press is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc., and the colophonis a trademark of Random House, Inc.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataSayrafiezadeh, Saïd. When skateboards will be free : a memoir of a political childhood / Saïd Sayrafiezadeh.p. cm.ISBN 978-0-385-34068-7 (hardcover)—ISBN 978-0-440-33839-0 (e-book).1. Sayrafiezadeh, Saïd—Childhood and youth. 2. Socialists—United States—Biography.3. Socialist Workers Party. I. Title.HX84.S39A3 2009324.273'7—dc22[B]2008051096Printed in the United States of AmericaPublished simultaneously in Canada www.dialpress.com10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1BVG

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foreigncircus reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This memoir was painfully honest and suprisingly rather bleak despite the amusing title. The story of young Said's life as the child of two Socialists was leavened by humor but this reader for one wondered how any adults could so selfishly ignore the needs of their own progeny in favor of the abstract needs of the people. Neither of Said's parents appeared to be fit caretakers for this sensitive child, and his ability to survive and even thrive in that environment is a testimony to his strength of personality. This book is full of hard truths about prejudice, political agitation, and family dysfunction. Highly recommended!
djlunchlady91404 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I'm not usually one for stories involving politics but I really enjoy memoirs so I read it anyway. It was actually really good and I had a hard time putting it down. It really did surprise me and I have actually recommended it to a few people already.
reina10_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
"When Skateboards Will Be Free" is an intriguing memoir about being raised in an idealistic family, that is a little misguided in their priorities. The author describes his politically-charged and dysfunctional childhood in an honest and almost childlike manner. He is not afraid to share his funny and sometimes disturbing experiences, even when he writes about himself. This is an excellent book. I highly recommend it.
dudara_2 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
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.
nbmars reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This is a memoir by Said Sayrafiezadeh (pronounced say-RAH-fee-ZAH-day), son of a Jewish mother and an Iranian father, members of the Socialist Workers Party who had three children. Said was the youngest, and when he was only nine months old his father abandoned him. His older siblings soon went off with the father, and he was left to be raised by his ideologically-obsessed, ascetic mother who raised him in strict accordance with the denial preached by party principles. Said’s mother was convinced that their struggles and sacrifices would lead to The Revolution. But it wasn’t clear to Said what The Revolution would mean. When he worked up the nerve to ask his mother for an $11 skateboard, she told him “Once the revolution comes, everyone will have a skateboard, because all skateboards will be free.” Did that suggest it was good to want materialist things after all?In the meantime, they lived in abject poverty, and his mother denigrated those with money as “rich asses.” This created more confusion for Said: his mother's brother was Mark Harris, author of Bang the Drum Slowly, and a nice man whose offers of pecuniary help were refused. Was he a "rich ass"?Their lives were determined by "political correctness." There was an elementary school right by their house, but Said's mother had him take a very long round-trip bus ride everyday to a black school (where the white kids would be separated out anyway as "scholars" so that they never interacted with the blacks). His mother would not permit them to buy grapes, but Said could steal them. His mother would fill her knapsack with towelettes from the doctor’s office. “Any crime against society is a good crime,” she would tell him. Her bookshelves were filled with party tomes that never had their spines cracked, and she could no more explain to Said the substance behind the slogans than he could explain it later in life. Nevertheless, the slogans came to his mind automatically; they had become a part of him, even without any understanding. They were a part of his ties to his family. Said’s father Mahmoud, absent and uncaring, with his constant rejections of Said, nevertheless held a fascination for him. Said never even knew what to call him, and so he never called him anything. Since the publication of this book, Said's father does not speak to him at all, presumably because of the exposure of his abandonment and mistreatment of his family, as well as (probably) his failures as a would-be revolutionary. Other reviews point to the humor of Sayrafiezadeh’s memoir, but I had trouble seeing anything but pain and abuse. I thought it was one of the saddest stories I ever read.
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