When Skateboards Will Be Free: My Reluctant Political Childhood

When Skateboards Will Be Free: My Reluctant Political Childhood

by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780241143582
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Publication date: 06/28/2009
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

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When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir of a Political Childhood 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
reina10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"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.
ForeignCircus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
dudara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was awesome you will not regret please buy! It is worth the money. I loved it!
Maria Ward More than 1 year ago
This memior captures the life of one man within the bindings of one book, but not just one life, rather the entire spectrum of the human expirence. Powerfully and poigantly places the human spirit, with all its faults and perfections, unending endurances and breaking points, onto the page. Tragically gripping and darkly funny, life breathes in the turning of these pages. You cry, laugh, and root for a man struggling to overcome the lies of politics and family fallibilities, ultimately discovering his sense of self, displayed beautifully in his prose. Masterfully written, When Skateboards Will Be Free, will live in the hearts if readers and the memory of Americans forever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NSALegal More than 1 year ago
A few interesting vignettes of the people in the author's family and life, but somewhat slight and empty. The memoir only flirts with being compelling.