I Dream of Microwaves by Imad Rahman

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Imad Rahman

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Imad Rahman's short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals; this is his first book. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
 
Published April 14, 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 256 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for I Dream of Microwaves

Kirkus Reviews

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Two episodes after he arrives in Ohio and gets taken by Eileen to dinner with her sister and a cannibal, our hero is working as a repo man for a video store chain, hunting down an errant Forrest Gump tape with his partner Valentina, who speaks only in movie dialogue.

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Publishers Weekly

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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 constant...

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Star Tribune

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While there is a hip frankness to Kareem's lines ("I hungered to have her right there, in a gymnastic manner on the convection oven, while the rest of the cast cheered us on"), Rahman includes so many descriptions of the mechanics of drinking and smoking that it often bogs down his narratives.

May 22 2004 | Read Full Review of I Dream of Microwaves

Entertainment Weekly

Rahman is fabulously clever, and these eight absurd, linked stories suggest that he'd make a most amusing drinking buddy.

Apr 16 2004 | Read Full Review of I Dream of Microwaves

People

Frequently hilarious, the eight stories in this debut collection track sentimental-yet-macho Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (not the athlete), underemployed thespian and alcoholic, through bit parts as caricatures of "ethnics" (a "Zima Zorro" in a bar, a mole who infiltrates a terrorist group).

May 10 2004 | Read Full Review of I Dream of Microwaves

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