11 May 2011
Book Review: Nylon Road
Author: Parsua Bashi
Publisher/Year: St. Martin's Griffin / 2009
Date Finished: 23 April 2011
Source/Format: School / Print
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: Graphic Novel Challenge,
Parsua Bashi explores her life growing up in Iran through staged discussions with herself at various ages. The entire narrative is told through a flashback, revealing particular events in Bashi's life which may not have formed her but do define her. I love this set-up. The older I get the more I want to talk to my past selves. My opinions, held so tightly when I was 16, seem naive now that I am 31. Bashi with love and forgiveness argues with her younger selves, challenges their thinking while simultaneously feeling nostalgic for those versions of herself which have passed.
While Islamic Iranian culture is explored, the primary focus remains on Bashi, an internal exploration of her world through her eyes. I really appreciated this personalization as too often memoirs can stray a bit too far into cultural analysis without acknowledging the subjective bias inherent in a "memoir".
As so many reviews of this graphic memoir mention, no comments on Nylon Road are complete without a comparison to Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, a graphic memoir about growing up in Iran (all hail the similarity). Most reviews will tell you that Persepolis is "better" than Nylon Road; I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Satrapi's memoir is certainly more historical and epic and the such not, but that is exactly why I feel it disingenuous to place to important a value on comparing the two. Just because they are both memoirs about girls growing up in Iran does not mean they should be judged against each other. I think it sufficient to say that they are both good.
Moving away from the narrative to the images, grays, tans, and white are the only colors used, and I am curious to know why. What is it about this color scheme that appealed to Bashi? And why does it appeal to me? At this point, I don't really have any answers.
In my quest to make my professional life as difficult as possible, I am once again changing all of the books for my Introduction to Literature course. Why can't I read the same five books from year to year and save myself a great deal of time and energy? So many books, so little time I guess. Bashi's graphic memoir has made the cut along with The White Album by Joan Didion, Black American Short Stories, and Logicomix by Doxiadis and Papadimitriou. I've decided to let students choose their own novel. Heaven help me!