October 19, 2007

A short story by Ibrahim N. Abusharif

(Published in Mizna.)

This book would not have been written had it not been for many people in my life. When I completed the story months ago, the time had come for me to acknowledge these kind souls, and I was prepared to thank and praise. But what was supposed to be a simple matter evolved into an acknowledgments project with lengthy notes and outlines. Time dragged and my publishers grew impatient. They began to pressure me to invent any handful of words that convey some sense of gratitude, pretending with hubris book tradition that the author comprehends what these people have truly meant. The proposition, however widespread, is illusory. The pretension of our age has made it nearly impossible to attain a raw view of the influences that urge a writer to pursue literature and expose himself to the honesty native to the process. I’m afraid that our sense of cultural history on a personal level has been so undermined by the modern marketing imagination, we’ve become a people of imitation humility. I can produce a list of happy words and attach them to folks who have read the manuscript and given me advice and encouragement. But they dealt with a more or less finished outcome. After going through this narrative, however, and having been shown the grid of forces that informed in me that scandalous self-awareness that has driven me to tell this story, there’s no going back. To produce an ordinary tribute—to add to the gas of functional thanks—would be a betrayal of the covenants I made during the experience. Since I don’t have the wherewithal to pursue such a tumultuous act of honesty now, especially when threatened by what is loudly called a “deadline,” I’ve decided to do something else. I will acknowledge people who did nothing to further this work, who, on the contrary, nearly snatched its soul and hid it among the innumerable works that do not exist, invisible dunes of embargoed narratives with unasked questions. There are two people I will speak of—normal in flesh but emblematic enough to make my point.

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