Intentionally or otherwise, the eight stories in Aleksandar Hemon‘s collection improve until you reach the final tale, The Noble Truths of Suffering. In common is their dark humour, portrayal of the bleak loneliness of exile and capable use of metaphor. I know little of Hemon’s background but what little I have found out suggests that these stories have deep autobiographic roots (even more so than any fiction).
The second story, Everything, is a picture perfect portrayal of the teenage boy’s obsessive, looming sexuality. The third, The Conductor, depicts with bleak humour the loving and loathing inspired by a youth’s mentor and the persistence of those emotions even when one’s giants are toppled. The sixth tale, The Bees, Part 1, rings so true that I suspect it is autobiographical. I forgot that I read the final tale, also I suspect autobiographical, when published in the New Yorker.
This collection is my first reading of Hemon, and my preconception of him as an overly indulgent writer in the post-modern idiom is incorrect. His last novel, The Lazarus Project, is also in my TBR pile but it will have to wait to receive my attention.