Thursday, September 25, 2008

Readings: Like, Nowhere, Man

Before I get on with the main topic of this post, I have a little aside for the guys. Any chicks who may have wandered in here (would that there were chicks!) may be excused for the nonce. Kick your shoes off, mosey out to the kitchen, and whip up a batch of chocolate chips, or something...

Now, guys… I’m sure that we’ve all had the experience of seeing a to-die-for, knock-out gorgeous woman across a room and, impelled by visions of hot monkey (but nevertheless oh-so-soigné) love, maneuvered ourselves like pawns on a chess board until we finally arrived, hearts knocking in syncopation with our knees, within the shining aura of that great beauty… And then she opens her mouth, speaks, and what had seemed like USDA-prime was instantly transformed into lowly chuck—pot roast—so much stew meat. Zut, alors!

Well, that’s what we’ve been going through for the last several days with the arrival on the scene of the Governor of Alaska. Man, she looked like a million bucks. But, all too soon—as soon as her acceptance speech, in fact—that million bucks was seen to be Confederate money. The guv was mere eye candy. Thus my blog has been heavy on graphics for the past few posts, and short on words.

While this political soap opera has been unfolding on cable, however, I have been occupied as well with finishing up a pretty good novel. I hadn’t planned to post about it. But when I booted up this morning, a Yahoo! News headline about the discovery of a mass grave in Bosnia changed my mind. The novel is Nowhere Man. The author is Aleksandar Hemon. Hemon is an interesting writer, due in no small part to his background. From Wikipedia:

Hemon graduated from the University of Sarajevo with a degree in literature in 1990. After moving to Chicago in 1992 knowing little English, and finding himself unable to write in his native Bosnian, he resolved to learn English within five years.

In 1995, he began to write in English, and his work soon appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. In 2000 Hemon published his first book, The Question of Bruno, which included short stories and a novella.

As an American who has studied French, Latin, and Japanese, but still speaks only English, this kind of facility with language blows my mind. The novel takes place in Bosnia, in Chicago, and elsewhere. But the main thing that struck me in reading it was how much like American kids are the Bosnian kids about whom Hemon writes.

Rather than making this post any longer, I will leave the synopsis of the novel to the link and simply urge anybody looking for a good read to consider Nowhere Man.