nbmars reviewed this|over 4 years ago
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.
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