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"...into the infinity of lifedom..."

In Aleksandar Hemon's short story "Everything" (collected in the excellent Love and Obstacles), the teenaged narrator has been given the responsibility of buying a freezer for his family, which requires a long journey from Sarajevo to the remote town of Murska Sobota, in Slovenia. The narrator - sensitive, over-romantic and almost laughably naive - believes his parents have given him this mission to introduce him to the mundane and quotidian world of adulthood, but he resists, fantasizing about escaping that fate.
In my notebook I waxed poetic about the alluring possibility of simply going on, into the infinity of lifedom, never buying the freezer chest. I would go past Murska Sobota, to Austria, onward to Paris; I would abscond from college and food storage; I would buy a one-way ticket to the utterly unforeseeable. Sorry, I would tell them, I had to do it, I had to prove than one could have a long, happy life without ever owning a freezer chest. In every trip, a frightening, exhilarating possibility of never returning is inscribed. This is why we say goodbye, I write. You knew it could happen when you sent me to the monstrous city, the endless night, when you sent me to Murska Sobota.
I love the overwrought romanticism of that passage, so full of longing. I want him to find that world beyond the mundane - "the utterly unforeseeable" - even as I want him to come to his senses and do his duty, which in the end is probably best for him.

December 2, 2009 in Books | Permalink

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