24. Embroideries

I  couldn’t wait to get my hands on another Marjane Satrapi graphic novel.  So while browsing Amazon.fr looking for EFL books for a class I ran across Embroideries.  I pressed add and in my basket it went.  When I received the book, the quote on the back cover that struck me was “By turns bawdy and heartbreaking…Of all Satrapi’s books, Embroideries most effectively tears down the divide between Iranian and American culture, showing how women everywhere are similar.”  –  The Capital Times (Madison)  I had the same feeling while reading Persepolis.

Initially on the book’s arrival I was disappointed to see how short it was.  I remembered how much I had enjoyed Persepolis and how I didn’t want it to end.  Well, Embroideries is so short that I read it in less than an hour and I was trying to make it last.  I read it the same day it arrived in the mail.  After dinner, I got comfy in my armchair in the living room near the window and read it in 45 minutes.  How did I find it?  The graphic style is the same as Persepolis and the ambiance of the storytelling too.  Marjane Satrapi’s recalcitrant, comical, sarky, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother makes a reappearance.  It definitely wouldn’t be as humorous without her.  Embroideries, is essentially a short story about ladies getting together for afternoon tea to engage in discussion, which leads them to talk about the sexual habits of Iranian women.  “The tea that we prepared at these times had a completely different function.  Everyone gathered around the drink in order to devote themselves to their favorite activity : DISCUSSION.  This discussion had its own purpose:  To speak behind others’ backs is the ventilator of the heart…” (Embroideries)  The samovar or tea is just the opportunity for these women to get together.  This is not any different from any other part of the world.  Women getting together can lead to all kinds of different discussions, including sex, contrary to popular belief.  Each woman tells an awkward tale involving a relationship with a man, about sex, or both.  Some of the stories are really quite funny.  Through these accounts you understand better about the way the women feel about sex, men, and marriage and also how the men don’t seem to be controlling as much as think they are.

I’m giving Embroideries three and a half stars.  I can’t give it more because it seems to have opened Pandora’s box but doesn’t go deep enough.   Although, I’m not disappointed I read it I was hoping for so much more.  In spite of everything, Marjane Satrapi is a brilliant graphic artist and has introduced the culture of Iran and Iranian people’s everyday lives through her works to her readers.  Most importantly, she succeeds at doing this with a universal approach.

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