Sunday, June 28, 2009

David Gates on Aleksandar Hemon's "Love & Obstacles

A NYT Review of Aleksandar Hemon's "Love & Obstacles" is here. David Gates does the honors. A sentence like "Hemon’s own brainy postmodernism mostly takes the infinitely regressive form of fictionalizing about fictionalizing. If this strikes you as deal-breakingly precious, you probably didn’t like "The Tempest," either." gives you an idea of how the review goes.

Wish they had someone with a bit more "Slavic" sensibility in them to do the review, say Gary Shteyngart.
Just my opinion, but I can't tell if it's thumbs up, down, or simply wiggling in the air with Mr. Gates' opinion. Let's see the last lines and hope for the best!?!

"The best Hemon’s characters can hope for is an occasional random intersection of private fictions. His readers may have no better hope in their real lives, but in Hemon’s stories they can observe the strange, lonely artistry of the individual imagination from a distance that seems like no distance at all."

Addition: From the WSJ, an interview with Aleksandar Hemon on a tour of Chicago sites that inspired his book "Love and Obstacles".

An excerpt: " I can write anywhere as long as there is good coffee available, for I am a militant caffeine addict and a terrible coffee snob. Whether by the Turkish coffee I make at home, or by what the good people of Metropolis provide, my fantasies are fueled by what ought to be, according to a Turkish proverb, black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love. I take no love in my coffee."

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I'm fairly impressed with Gates' assessment, by and large. I'm surprised, though, that he makes no significant mention of the acts of violence that interrupt the various dream states that Hemon's characters generate for themselves. As I read, these "interruptions" had such a visceral force, they threatened to become the centre-point of the fiction(s).

That's just my initial reaction. I'm still mulling the book over.
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