21 January 2010

Book Review: Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon

I did not like this. And the main reason for this dislike is the fact that I cannot wrap my head around it.

The thing is, I was very much confused as to the nature of this book. It was a collection of stories, and yet the stories were linked with each other, in fact, too linked to each other that I am not sure whether this is a novel or not. The whole collection of stories sounded like several chapters of a novel about this one person.

Now the other disturbing thing is that this book claims to be fiction, and yet it somehow sounds very autobiographical. Maybe it was intended that way, maybe not, but I just don't know.

Another thing that irks me is the fact that the chapters (or should I say, the stories) that compose this book are too microscopic. They focus on one explicit thing that makes the reader lost in its pages, in a bad way. One gets the hint that the stories are related to one another, and yet at the same time, the stories narrate something so intense and deep. All the stories are told in the first-person, and yet this first person has no name. It is implied that the stories share one first person, therefore, it's just a collection of chapters of a novel of this person.

Anyway, this first person has plenty of things in common. He is Bosnian, he has been living in the United States, he got stranded in the USA as a tourist when the war in Bosnia erupted, and he has plenty of connections. He lives in Chicago, he writes, and he has family in Bosnia. All of these seem to mirror the life of the author himself.

Anyway, reading this book has plunged me into this deep confusion, that I think I ended up being more dissatisfied than pleased. Unfortunately, the author has won a MacArthur Genius Grant and therefore suggests that plenty of people out there like his work. Unfortunately, I don't think I can consider myself to be one of them. 1 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

(Weird Chair, from my Hirschhorn Museum Series)

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