Synopses & Reviews
A bitingly funny debut story collection trails a Pakistani-American actor searching for a way to play himself in "real, actual life."When B-movie-grade actor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar opens the mail one day, he find a one-way bus ticket to Cleveland and a note from his ex-girlfriend Eileen that reads, "Good news. I am through with big dicks and henceforth thinking constantly of you." So begin the linked misadventures of one of the most endearing ne'er-do-wells to grace recent American fiction. Kareem drops his job portraying Hispanic criminals on America's Most Wanted and makes his way to Ohio, where he puts his dramatic skills to the test by impersonating a Bosnian refugee, in an attempt to help Eileen cash in on her grandmother's philanthropy. Such virtuosity can't last, however, and Kareem moves on, looking for a way to be himself when the camera isn't rolling. In one story, he pushes drinks as the Zima Zorro at the Ancient Mariner Sports Bar and Grill; in another he roughs up Unrepentant Privilege Abuse Perpetrators as a rental video repossessor. He returns to the theater, as stage manager to an incestuous Shakespearean troupe adrift in Pakistan, and as a Kilgore hell-bent on getting bumped up to Kurtz in a musical dinner theater production of Apocalypse Now. As he follows Kareem's quest for the big breaks in work and love, Imad Rahman explores the struggle for success and self-invention in contemporary life with originality, irreverence, and an absurdist wit that strikes unerringly close to the bone.
"Rahman's deadpan first collection of eight linked stories gets off to a promisingly weird start when Pakistani-American actor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives a letter and a one-way bus ticket from Eileen, an old girlfriend, who announces she's 'through with big dicks and henceforth thinking constantly of you.' It's a great opening scene, and a taste of what's to come. Kareem's career as a stand-in on television crime dramas like America's Most Wanted has ground to a halt, so joining Eileen in Ohio could be the fresh start he's been craving. Instead, Kareem winds up at the dinner table debating the plight of Bosnia with Eileen's sister Cecilia and her cannibal husband from the South Pacific, then gets a surprise marriage proposal from Eileen. The interrelated stories that follow jump somewhat awkwardly back and forth in time. After being abandoned by now ex-wife Eileen due to his excessive drinking, Kareem begins a miserable stint as a Zima spokesman. In later installments, he walks dogs for Manhattan's elite and works as a repo man recovering unreturned video tapes along with fellow actor Valentina, a woman whose speech consists only of movie dialogue. Meanwhile, he lands roles in a musical version of Apocalypse Now and a low-brow production of Hamlet. Rahman sometimes flirts too strenuously with surreality, but his comic precision restores balance. These stories are top-notch novelty acts, delightfully witty, quirky fun. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Hilarious debut collection...an absurdist comedy like no other....The writing zips along, fueled by a doomed, what-the-hell humor and a sharp eye for stretching things just the smallest tick past reality." Kirkus Reviews
"Imad Rahman's brash, irrepressible narrator, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is a pop culture victim and villain both, a true hero for our corroded times. I Dream of Microwaves is a funny, ferocious debut." Sam Lipsyte, author of The Subject Steve
"Imad Rahman combines the cool-chrome wit and riveted literary precision of TC Boyle, with the soul-freight of a young Raymond Carver. An undeniable new power on the fiction scene." Tom Paine, author of The Pearl of Kuwait
"From its hangover-remedy first paragraph to its literally life affirming last, Imad Rahman's I Dream of Microwaves etches itself on the reader's memory. Of course the title echoes Whitman! This book, narrated by a Pakistani born actor who can only get roles playing thugs on true crime reenactment shows, is a paean to the sharp, exuberant surfaces as well as the heartbroken heart of American life." David Leavitt, author of The Lost Language of Cranes
"Sharply written, moving, and hilarious, I Dream of Microwaves offers visions of identity and intimacy infiltrated by theatre, buffeted by the absurdities of American culture. Imad Rahman's stories illuminate the strange intersections of desire, otherness, and commerce, the wild bewilderments of contemporary life. A smart, energetic debut collection." Nancy Reisman, author of The First Desire
Absurd and unerringly close to the bone, this bitingly funny debut story collection trails a Pakistani-American actor searching for a way to play himself in "real, actual life."
About the Author
Imad Rahman's short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals; this is his first book. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.