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By Gregg Hurwitz
  1. The Nowhere Man
  2. Post navigation
  3. “Buy a Bullet: An Orphan X Short Story”: New Excerpt - Criminal Element
  4. Haunted by the present

The Nowhere Man

There they have their antecedents and their consequences, which crowd tightly together and press hard one upon the other without any pause. This has its importance for any narrative, of which continuity and successiveness are the soul. Yet what is to be done with events that have no place of their own in time; events that have occurred too late, after the whole of time has been distributed, divided and allotted; events that have been left in the cold, unregistered, hanging in the air, errant and homeless?

It was to be a strong precursor to one of the main themes of the story to come, of the main character and the ones at the periphery. Aleksandar Hemon was born in Sarajevo in His parents were of Ukrainian and Bosnian Serb heritage.

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In , Hemon was granted a cultural visa to the USA as part of an exchange programme. On May 1, , the day of his return, Sarajevo came under attack by the Yugoslav army, and he was granted asylum in the States. That came a few months later when I stumbled across Nowhere Man at a new bookstore I was visiting for the first time.

The blurb was intriguing and it was added to my never-ending and ever-expanding to-read list. But I never did more research on it or the writer before picking it up at the end of I was only aware that the protagonist of this book was a character from one of the short stories in his published collection.

In fact, I remained under the mistaken assumption that the first-person narrator was Pronek himself, until he comes across a man he recognises as Pronek at an English language academy in Chicago. They knew each other as children back in Sarajevo; years and miles separating this chance meeting and their original association.

“Buy a Bullet: An Orphan X Short Story”: New Excerpt - Criminal Element

It took a while to adjust to this change, but credit to Hemon for writing in a distinct, different voice from the first section. As with section one, this too ends on a rather ominous note, one of many that continue to form a silent, if not, unavoidable background to this story of Jozef Pronek. Our man appears quiet, polite, a bit diffident even.

This could very well be a declaration for the novel itself which requires intense concentration to read and process, and even then leaves you with more questions than answers and a frustrating inability to change that. There are two more sections to go. If one elects to include only the important events…one denies the real substance of life: the ephemera, the nether-moments, much too small to be recorded…but you cannot simply list all the moments when the world tickles your senses, only to seep away between your fingers and eyelashes, leaving you alone to tell the story of your life to an audience interested only in the fireworks of universal experiences, the rollercoaster rides of sympathy and judgement.

Let us just remember. There was a hole in the world, and I fit right into it; if I perished, the hole would just close, like a scar healing.

And even though, I remained emotionally detached, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. At the end I remained confused, but with glimpses of somewhat feeble understanding what for example was the point of writing 30 odd pages about his Bosnian acquaintance before Pronek even comes into the narrative space, who was the omniscient narrator sometimes slipping into first person in the later sections and what the hell happened in the coda.

But would I recommend it?


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Haunted by the present

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Learn how and when to remove this template message. This article is about a novel by Aleksandar Hemon. For other uses, see Nowhere Man. Books by Aleksandar Hemon. Nowhere Man The Lazarus Project The Question of Bruno Love and Obstacles The Book of My Lives Hidden categories: Articles lacking sources from October All articles lacking sources All stub articles.