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The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon
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The Book of My Lives

by Aleksandar Hemon

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The last five star essay is definitely worth reading. A harrowing heartfelt tale of love and the desperate will to live, but then the courage to finally say goodbye. Sorry to say I was sadly disconnected from most of the rest of the book. ( )
  MSarki | Aug 3, 2013 |
This book took me forever to get through. Really a set of short essays rather than a single narrative, each piece does sit on its own. Found most of the book challenging to get through -- but loved the piece on Chicago, and the last story focused on his daughter. ( )
  lalbro | Jul 5, 2013 |
This is an excellent book, honest and illuminating. The last piece is the centerpiece and highlight, and will stick with you whether you want it to or not. But it is a great collection in its entirety. ( )
  Laura400 | May 13, 2013 |
My review of Hemon's first non-fiction collection is posted at California Literary Review -- http://calitreview.com/37340/book-review-the-book-of-my-lives-by-aleksandar-hemo... ( )
  KrisR | May 9, 2013 |
My takeaway, from page 166, when Aleksandar describes how Peter, a man with whom he plays chess, explodes at a group of students:

I remembered how, a few weeks before, he had gone off at a couple of Loyola students who were babbling at the next table, copiously abusing the word like, barely slowing down to take a breath. I'd been annoyed by the incessant vacuousness of their exchange, the idiotic frequency of the likes, and I couldn't stop listening precisely because I'd had no idea what they were talking about. But I just put up with it, always liable to distraction. Peter, however, suddenly exploded: "Why are you talking so much?" he yelled at them. "You've been talking for an hour, saying nothing. Shut up! Shut up!" The students shut up, terrified. Peter's outburst, shocking though it may have been, made perfect sense to me -- not only did he deplore the waste of words, he detested the moral lassitude with which they were wasted. To him, in whose throat the bone of displacement was forever stuck, it was wrong to talk about nothing when there was a perpetual shortage of words for all the horrible things that happened in the world. It was better to be silent than to say what didn't matter. One had to protect from the onslaught of wasted words the silent place deep inside oneself, where all the pieces could be arranged in a logical manner, where the opponents abided by the rules, where even if you ran out of possibilities there might be a way to turn defeat into victory. The students, of course, could not begin to comprehend the painful infinity of Peter's interior space. Inoculated against speechlessness, they had no access to the unspeakable. They could not see us, even though we were there, as we were nowhere and everywhere. So they shut up and sat in wordless oblivion; then they got up and left. Peter and I arranged the pieces for another game of chess.

That pretty much sums up my day-to-day life, minus the outburst, unfortunately. ( )
  lrcaborn | May 6, 2013 |
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added by eromsted | editThe Nation, Aaron Thier (pay site) (May 13, 2013)
 
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FOR ISABEL,

forever breathing on my chest
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On the evening of March 27, 1969, my father was in Leningrad, USSR, in pursuit of his advanced electrical engineering degree.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374115737, Hardcover)

The first nonfiction book—searing, revealing, unforgettable—from one of our most acclaimed writers

Aleksandar Hemon’s lives begin in Sarajevo, a small, blissful city where a young boy’s life is consumed with street soccer with his casually multiethnic group of friends, resentment of his younger sister, and trips abroad with his engineer-cum-beekeeper father. Here, a young man’s life is about poking at the pretensions of the city’s elders with American music, bad poetry, and slightly better journalism. And then Chicago: watching war break out in Sarajevo and the city come under siege, with no way to return home; the Hemons fleeing Sarajevo with the family dog, leaving behind all else they had ever known; and Hemon himself starting a new life, his own family, in this new city.
     And yet this is not really a memoir. Like Hemon’s fiction, The Book of My Lives defies convention and expectation. It is a love song to two different cities; it is a heartbreaking paean to the bonds of family; it is a stirring exhortation to go out and play soccer—and not for the exercise. It is a book driven by passion but built on fierce intelligence, devastating experience, and sharp insight. And like the best narratives, it is a book that will leave you a different reader—a different person, with a new way of looking at the world—when you’ve finished. For fans of Hemon’s fiction, The Book of My Lives is simply indispensable; for the uninitiated, it is the perfect introduction to one of the great writers of our time.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:32:45 -0400)

Aleksandar Hemon's lives begin in Sarajevo, a small, blissful city where a young boy's life is consumed with street soccer with the neighborhood kids, resentment of his younger sister, and trips abroad with his engineer-cum-beekeeper father; a young man's life is about poking at elder pretensions with American music, bad poetry, and slightly better journalism. And then, his life in Chicago: watching from afar as war breaks out and the city comes under siege; his parents and sister fleeing Sarajevo, leaving behind all they had ever known; and Hemon himself starting a new life in this new city. And yet this is not really a memoir--Hemon's first book of nonfiction defies convention and expectation. It is a love song to two different cities; it is a paean to the bonds of family; it is an exhortation to go out and play soccer--and not for the exercise. It is a book driven by passions but built on fierce intelligence, devastating experience, and sharp insight. And like the best narratives, it is a book that will leave you a different person, with a new way of looking at the world.--From publisher description.… (more)

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