“The Street Vendor and the Movies,” the next story in the anthology that really hit me, is by Samuel Shimon. It’s excerpted from his An Iraqi in Paris—which I meant to read, but, again, “life and forgetfulness put a damper on that impulsive urge,” in the words of Samir Naqqash.
Well, not that it was really that impulsive.
Anyhow, “The Street Vendor and the Movies” is a wonderful, fast-moving piece set in Baghdad, a boy’s-eye view of his parents, the city, film stars, religion. At times, it switches abruptly from place to place, but it was abridged for this collection.
The most wonderful ingredient in this segment, for me, is the narrator’s father: deaf-mute and on the fringes of society in some ways, but also in love with music and film and dancing; not really understood by the narrator (or the reader) , only able to communicate in an ad hoc sign language, but full of troubling, warm life.
My favorite line is from the young protagonist, who’s not allowed to eat while his mother’s Muslim friend tries to cure him of young love. “But I’m hungry,” I cried. “May Allah keep you safe, I’m hungry.”
Worth getting An Iraqi in Paris. Certainly.
More about Shimon here.