Nathan Deuel has worked as editor for Rolling Stone as well as writing for The New York Times, Harper’s and GQ. After five crazy years living in the Middle East with his wife and daughter, they returned to LA, where he has gathered his experiences into the phenomenal collection ‘Friday Was the Bomb: Five Years in the Middle East,’ which he presents this Tuesday at Collected Works.
Do you think your daughter will have any really vivid or important memories of her time in the Middle East?
For the rest of her life, it will say her birthplace Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, so she’s never going to escape it. She’s a little young now to understand what that means, but I think that as she gets older...we’ll have a reckoning. There’ll be a time when I’ll have to take her back to Saudi Arabia, which I look forward to with a mix of dread and excitement. It’s a difficult country and it’ll be—it won’t be like going back to the farm in Mississippi or something. It’s a brutal, tough place. Brutal isn’t the right word; it’s an austere place.
When you came back to the US, were there any things you missed about living in the Middle East?
You get the sense of living on the edge of history. We’d go out to dinner and I’d be seated next to the chief correspondent of the NYT and the WSJ and WP—you name it. And these people would go out and collect the first draft of history—the most urgent developments in what remains the most important flashpoint in the world, and it’s intoxicating to be around that. It was exhausting and frightening as well but often very exhilarating
Were there things you felt like you could see better from the sidelines?
At the time I often found it very agonizing to be the one left behind. It was humiliating. I had a really hard time being proud of my role in that community. But I think ended up having a unique perspective on what it means to be a father, on what it means to be a supportive husband, what it means to be a man. The fact that I don’t have to be the breadwinner, that I don’t have to be the swashbuckling badass. In fact, a woman can do that and quite well.