In this trio of linked stories inspired by sounds overheard on the streets of Vancouver, a salesman becomes addicted to drugs, a whip-smart car thief comes face to face with the cop who has been chasing him, and two grandfathers inspire their granddaughter with stories of their native Iran.
In the first story, “Sammy and Luci,” a successful car salesman named Sammy grows bored with his perfect life and longs for something more. He begins partying, gambling, and spending all his hard-earned money on serious drugs. Soon, he’s dependent on his dealer, Luci, for his next fix. In “Constable Johnson and Fully Loaded,” a cop finally tracks down a skilled and educated car thief nicknamed FL, short for Fully Loaded. However, when the cop brings FL to home to recuperate from a gunshot wound, his beloved sister falls in love with the criminal. In “Mr. Ahmadi, Mr. Bandar, and Little Homa,” two Iranian expats take very different life paths that both end up in Vancouver. Once they meet again in Canada, the men find their lives entwined forever when their children fall in love and produce a granddaughter who loves hearing them argue about Iran. Debut author Sorkhou is at his best when describing the sights, sounds, and political turmoil of Iran, the homeland of many of his protagonists. These colorful snapshots, such as FL’s memories of the shallow pools filled with goldfish in many Iranian homes, or Mr. Ahmadi seeing a Mercedes-Benz on the streets of Tehran and becoming infatuated with German culture, feel vibrant and full of life. However, many scenes on the streets of Vancouver fall flat, sometimes weighed down by thug life clichés (cops are often “pigs”). Sorkhou also has an awkward penchant for asking readers to fill in the blanks: “My dear reader, you decide what Sahra was studying at the university and what doctorate she wanted to obtain, and let me know.” This tactic ends up feeling uninspired while leaving the reader wanting more.
A short story collection that functions best as a series of portraits of Iranian life in and out of the country.