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Stream of consciousness Iranian style1 Jan. 2011
Brian H. Appleton
- Published on Amazon.com
Houshang Golshiri is another amazing Iranian contemporary writer...one can sense the influence of Sadegh Hedayat in that the subjects of many of these short stories are dark and mysterious in this collection with the ironic title Black Parrot, Green Crow which some say symbolizes the clerics and the greens. There is in Houshang's writing that same kind of interrupted flow of consciousness where repeated sentences reappear again and again without objects, leading to great suspence and wonder...disturbed thought,like synapses not being made...the reader senses the dread and the fatal ending on its way sometimes predictable often not. "The Wolf" is such a story. We know that it will end badly with the beautiful wife of the professor and her obsession with the wolf or the "The Portrait of the Innocent I" in which a scare crow named Hassani in a field has strange effects on the minds of the villagers and people keep meeting calamitous and mysterious ends next to it or with articles of their clothing found on the scare crow.
There is also a subtle criticism of some of the negative aspects of Persian culture. The first story "Behind the Thin Stalks of the Bamboo Screen" reveal the worthlessness and abuse assigned to a poor disfigured prostitute while the antagonist fantasizes over a photo of a Western blonde cut out of a magazine. "The Man with the Red Tie" shows the colossal stupidity of the secret police under the IRI and yet it is also quite a humorous story. "My China Doll" is a shocking psychological landscape of a little girl whose father has been jailed and disappeared by the IRI we presume. The story lines are intentionally burried and hard to follow and the style is like the racing mind of the average person which privately chases about in many directions rather than sticking to one path...like herding cats or blowing on water.
"The Portrait of the Innocent II" is also a very revealing social critique. It is told by a man and his family being excommunicated and ostracised by village after village without the reader really understanding why until the very end.The criticism is not done in a pedantic way but rather we feel the suffering of this pariah as he recounts his experiences in his own simple words.
"Both Sides of the Coin" is a truely amazing story and with another unexpected ending, as a prisoner recounts to the visiting son of a late inmate, how he was responsible for driving him to take his own life, an event which is not revealed until the very end.
Golshiri was a great story teller and I am greatful that my friend Professor Franklin Lewis is responsible for the translation of several of them in this collection. I am more convinced than ever having now read Golshiri of what a great constellation of contemporary Iranian writers exists, which the world needs to know and read and I am therefore very appreciative of the Houshang Golshiri Foundation in Tehran which is preoccupied with the translation into English and other languages of the many great Iranian modern authors.See link: [...]
On my website [...] I have collected an album with their photos which numbers over 356 writers so far, a mere handful of whom have been translated.
This collection is well worth reading for both its educational and entertainment value and for anyone who is not familiar with Golshiri, it is enlightening.