23 June 2009

Book Review: I Dream of Microwaves by Imad Rahman

Should I pick a short story collection that I liked very much, this would be it. Why? Because the problems I have with respect to the short story genre is well-addressed here, and there has been a good solution that is offered by the author.

Well, the thing that ticks me off when reading short stories is that the stories only give me a simple and fleeting window into the lives of the characters. I suppose that is definitional with respect to short stories, there is a reason why they are short. Usually, short stories revolve around a common theme, and the whole book is a collection of stories about that common theme. Now the biggest thing that annoys me with regard to short stories is that the moment when I finally get to like the character, the moment when finally the character's quirks get to settle down fine with me, the story ends.

Not this one.

So how did that happen? Well, I Dream of Microwaves is a collection of short stories, but all of them have the same protagonist. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a Pakistani-American, and he is also a struggling actor. Basically, all chapters of this book is one vignette of his life as a struggling actor, describing the various gigs that he undertook, from being in a dinner theater, to being a dog-walker in New York City, to being part of a traveling troupe in the Pakistani mountains.

And yes, even though one story ended, the next story still featured the same character. And though there are no references to previous events within the stories, the character is still the same, with his same habits and quirks. In a way, the stories can be thought of as non-linear: given the fact that one cannot establish the temporal order between the stories, one might as well assume that the stories all happened in the past, but no particular order is available to the reader.

So yeah, I liked this one. And I haven't even talked about how funny this book is. But hey, that's for you to find out.

See my other book reviews here.

(Close-Up of Soldier with Cape, from my DC Memorials Series)

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