The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines - Shohreh Aghdashloo

Shohreh Aghdashloo burst onto the American cinema scene with the movie "House of Fog", but she had been quite the actor much before this in her home country of Iran, which she had to flee. This is her life - living in Iran, falling in love, being forced to leave, and struggling to find her place among foreigners, away from the ones she loves.

NOTE: I received this from the Amazon Vine Program.

The reason I chose to read this book was that I have several Iranian friends, whom I met in college. I wanted to better understand where they came from. And while yeah, I could just ask them, I thought maybe taking a peek into Ms. Aghdashloo's book might help. Unfortunately, I came out with a mixed bag.

If I had to list one thing that was the biggest problem with this memoirs, it would be that Ms. Aghdashloo does way too much telling and not enough showing. Lines like:

"Houshang was not only a great artist; he was also a handsome, kindhearted man. And of course, the sexual tension between us was palpable."

OR

"For our second date, Aydin wore a creamy white cotton suit like Dirk Bogarde in Visconti's Death in Venice. We talked for an hour or two, covering all subjects. He was observing me, watching me carefully from every angle, and asked many questions."

do not do justice to the story the author is trying to tell. SHOW how Houshang was a handsome, kindhearted man; don't just skim over the details and TELL us. SHOW us what you and Aydin talked about; don't do a flyby and TELL us that conversation happened.

And the fact is, cases like the above two happen quite frequently. I realize this is a memoirs, not a novel; I do not expect to have intricate details each and every anecdotes. But I would like to get to know the people she is talking about. I feel honestly like most of the people in the book are interchangeable names - unfortunate, because I know they are otherwise! Even the author herself comes across as flat and passive, when it is obvious that she is anything but. I mean, if she WERE passive, why would the Iranian government be so intent on capturing her?

Although much of the book was plagued with these flyby scenes (or irrelevant scenes, such as someone stealing Aydin's Playboy in Algerian), there were some scenes that Ms. Aghdashloo did a great job fleshing out. I rather liked reading about her attempt at running a flower shop - well done!! I also liked hearing about some of the process she underwent when acting (although these descriptions came far too late in the book - I overall barely got a feeling for her as an actress!). The scene where she is fleeing Iran for England were intense; I kept hoping she would make it out.

I really feel bad about all these criticisms. I think it is wonderful that Ms. Aghdashloo is sharing her story, and I appreciate what she has done. I guess I just want MORE. I want to see more of her acting life, feel her romance with the men in her life, understand the relationships to various people she meets (beyond being told their name, hair color, and eye color). If this book had added about 100 - 150 pages to flesh out these details, I more than likely would be a happy camper.

Although I've been harsh on this book, I think this book has some important points to share, and I do recommend checking it out, seeing if it is for you. While it doesn't do as good (in my opinion) a job of detailing the Iranian Revolution as, say, Persepolis, it gives us Americans a better perspective than we are likely to get from our media outlets.

*NOTE: I am uprating to 3 stars, because I just feel horrible about rating this anything less.