Chris Blocker's Reviews > Love and Obstacles

Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon
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's review
Dec 25, 2009

really liked it
Read in November, 2009

Judging by this collection, Aleksandar Hemon is an average storyteller. Well, average in the sense of literary talent. His characters are pretty average. In most ways, Hemon's stories seem pretty average.

Where Hemon stands out from the rest of his literary contemporaries, however, is in his use of language. It is both gorgeous and original. He is able to paint an image of a common object in a way no one has before, and he does it over and again. Sometimes it is a stretch--but if the reader can forgive Hemon the occasional blunder, they will be amazed at his overall mastery of language.

It is interesting that Hemon himself learned English as an adult. He was visiting the US when civil war broke out in Bosnia. He picked up the language and began writing years later. In his writing, Hemon doesn't use the cliches that most writers repeatedly use as a crutch (perhaps unknowingly). He tears down the English language, and carefully, as if it were clay, reshapes it and molds into something that is quite the same, but entirely different.

Throughout this collection of short stories, I went back over many sentences, reread them and pondered their beauty. The stories weren't that memorable, neither were the characters, and soon I will forget them entirely. But those sentences--those extravagant sentences--they made reading the book well worth it.

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