Amurph11’s #CBR4 Review #30, Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
“To speak behind others’ backs is the ventilator of the heart.” -Marjane Satrapi
I read the entirety of Embroideries in twenty minutes, while standing at my local bookstore waiting for a friend. It is a fast, and completely joyful read, as refreshing as a vent session with your best friend, and just as occasionally poignant. It’s a combination that Satrapi has become incredibly adept at since her debut, multi-volume graphic novel, Persepolis.
Like Persepolis, the story is at least semi-autobiographical, and deals with the family dynamics of Satrapi’s Iranian family. Only this time, the women have the place to themselves. Embroideries is a brief window into the sex lives of Iranian women, told entirely through one afternoon tea, while the men are off taking their post-lunch naps. The women in Satrapi’s tale veer from traditional widows, to semi-liberated young women, but all of them have their areas of expertise (and their blind spots) when it comes to sex. The title of the book comes from the Iranian euphemism for revirginization surgery, one topic of many that is discussed and giggled about by the endearing women in Satrapi’s tale.
While being a study in Iranian sexual politics, Embroideries has nothing too political to say. Instead, Satrapi contents herself with exposing the women’s sexual proclivities and fears with nonjudgmental observation, letting them argue among themselves about the sexual knowledge they’ve gained throughout various stages of their lives. And while it is certainly not the cultural juggernaut that Persepolis was, it is just as enjoyable. I felt reading it the way producers of “women’s” film and television probably want me to feel about their product: as part of a uniquely feminine inner circle, alternately laughing in recognition and nodding in sympathy (and occasionally cringing at an unfamiliar cultural practice – I am never going to be able to hear my grandmother use the term “embroidery” again). In short (to honor the shortness of the book itself): Embroideries was a delight. Treat yourself.
Read When: you’ve got a spare half-hour and need something to smile about.
Recommended For: Chicks. There’s really no getting around that one.
Listen With: The ambient noise of people talking.