Coming-of-age stories

2009-11-18 00:00


Love and Obstacles

Aleksandar Hemon


LOVE and Obstacles is a collection of loosely related short stories by ­Aleksandar Hemon, a Slovenian-born writer who, like the main character in these stories, moved to the United States. He also appears to have spent time in Africa.

The narrator of the stories begins as a sixteen-year-old adolescent ­attempting to find his own identity in the world. He tolerates what he ­regards as the parochial attitudes of his parents, who take with them wherever they go the traditional world view of their home land, Yugoslavia. Their expectations of him do not stretch beyond their vision of him as their child. His younger sister is an ­inevitable but not particularly welcome intrusion into his adolescent world of possibilities and dreams.

In this world of semi-independence, the narrator retreats from the confines of family into a world of books and his rich imagination. His assumed air of indifference allows him to pretend he is above the tedium of domestic life. Whenever he is able, he stretches his leash as far as he is able.

Each story is about one of his forays into the outside world. As he grows older, these encounters take him further away from the world of childhood.

He encounters mavericks such as Spinelli, a drummer with a penchant for heavy drugs and easy women; he discovers the bald loneliness of anonymity and thwarted desire in a hotel room; he experiences disillusion when an adolescent hero exposes his feet of clay; he explores the harsh ­realities of being a Third World immigrant in a First world country.

Hemon is an exceptional writer who uses language with a freshness which sometimes takes one’s breath away. These coming-of-age stories are interesting in an academic way but unfortunately I wasn’t moved by them.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.