I admit it took me a while to even get started reading this novella, In the Footsteps of the Silver King, by Paul Kareem Tayyar (print and ebook link). Once I started, I had a hard time putting it down. I hoped to get some reading done of my vacation, and as that didn’t happen, I opened it up while waiting for a plane on the way home. I forgot for several times I was in the airport terminal! This story follows Patrick Karimi as he embarks on a journey he never thought he’d take.
The story starts as a long prologue showing various episodes of Patrick’s father, Hassan, an Iranian immigrant to the US who returns to Iran. These episodes serve as a template to the heart of the narrative. His father cheats death so many times, the 1st person narrator is surprised when his step-mother, Nazim, calls from Iran, telling him that his father passed away. She mentions there is a package that he should expect in the mail. In the letter from his father, Patrick is told to find his father’s silver medal. This leads Patrick on a quest to find the object and return it to his father’s resting place. Patricks encounters old friends of his father’s, first at the LA County Fair near where he lives, then up to San Francisco, where he meets a precocious girl named Dorothy and her older sister Gemma, interrupting his search for a Catholic Priest that knew his father. Once he meets the priest, he must find Penelope “The Cloud Queen,” who has moved to Portland to live with her granddaughter. He recovers the medal, and books a flight to Iran—a place he has never been.
The story is uncomplicated and very straight forward. I enjoyed the limpid writing. Every sentence placed on the page shines and gleams. Every word is in it’s place and rings true. There is no unnecessary language. Paul Tayyar has an excellent writing voice that captivates and draws readers in. There is a minor hiccup between Chapter 9 and 10 where the transition is not as fluid as others in the book. Patrick is obsessed with popular culture covering everything from sports to music, from fiction and poetry to movies. I had no idea who many of these icons mentioned are, nor felt the need to look them up. Each character seems to know more about popular culture than would seem normal. I think this is part of the magic with the writing.
This story is a winds through Patrick’s adventure in finding the lost medal. As the title suggests, Patrick is pushed out of his daily comfort zone of his life in Long Beach, CA, and follows in the come-what-may attitude his father possessed. Each complication of finding the next piece in the puzzle, the next step in the quest, adds to Patrick’s character, deepening his own understandings of his father and unacknowledged aspects of himself. While many of these side-adventures seem unnecessary at first, such as why Patrick chooses to accompany young Dorothy home, they become immediately necessary to the story. He must experience each and every thing he does that leads him to the land of his father’s birth.
This novella is a terrific read. I was never confused about anything happening as each scene flows smoothly to the next. Each character felt so real and alive that I could meet them on the streets and have a nice conversation about their life. Paul Tayyar is talented and this shows in this polished tale of a young man following a path laid out by a letter written by his father. Go out and read it!