Aleksandar Hemon All Ages Free Recommended

When: Sun., May 17, 3 p.m. 2009

Hemon (The Lazarus Project) reads from his new short story collection, Love and Obstacles.In "Death of the American Commando," one of the best stories in Aleksandar Hemon's new collection, the narrator recalls when, as a kid, he got the chance to wander the school hallways while everyone else was stuck in class. "I relished the squeaking of my shoes, the echoes in the void," he says. "I felt free. . . . There, but not there." Straightforward but layered with meaning, it's a typically insightful Hemon moment--one of the many instances in his work where epiphanies about identity and place emerge from the ordinary. Hemon's 2000 book of short works, The Question of Bruno, featured elliptical stories constructed from narrative vignettes, fragments of observation, and a quirky use of his nonnative English. The eight stories that make up Love and Obstacles are more conventional in form and delivery, but they're populated with his most developed and interesting characters yet--like the shady American expat who introduces Hemon's alter ego to pot during a stay in Africa, or the arrogant Bosnian poet who both epitomizes and transcends the tragedy of his homeland. Through all the stories runs a resilient belief that there's meaning in the confusion of everyday life. —Mick Dumke

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