Leaving

Self doesn’t know why, the melancholy tone of My Heart really appeals to her. Perhaps one day, she’ll go and visit Sarajevo, see that beautiful city, which has existed so long in her imagination, longer than any other European city except perhaps London.

The last stop on the Father-Son road trip is Phoenix, an apartment complex on 1601 Camelback Road, no. 201. Father and son lived here “twenty years earlier . . . And I had felt more or less at home everywhere, apart from here, at the address 1601 Camelback Road, no. 201! Here I am most foreign. And now I can calmly forget everything.”

Self also just found out that the sketches which are in the book are the author’s own. Simple, stark sketches, which self finds utterly charming. For instance, this one of the outside of the apartment in Phoenix:

Son,

You’re on your way to your home, and I’m at the airport and will soon be on the plane. And the moment I found an empty table in the airport café, I saw a sparrow flying over the large waiting area opposite and I thougt of Tomaz Salamun. A poet, he had the habit, whenever he came to America on his writer’s business, of calling from those hotels within reach of the airport, after his flight had been canceled, or he would simply call from an airport café like this one, and then we would chat while he waited for his flight. Ever since I lived here, my most important contacts with friends have been carried out like that. Over the telephone.

My Heart, p. 117

Theories

Please excuse self for conjuring all this stuff, but she thinks the narrator of My Heart is so obviously Semezdin Mehmedinovic, even though the book cover announces: My Heart — a novel.

She is convinced that Mehmedinovic has decided to move back to Sarajevo, and that the whole raison d’etre for the book is his way of saying good-bye to his son, who is of course at home in his adopted country.

That said, self being a writer, too, means she has quite an imagination. She’s already convinced herself that she understands Semezdin Mehmedinovic (or the Semezdin Mehmedinovic who is the narrator of My Heart), that she knows the reason for the melancholy that infuses every page. She truly adores that the melancholy exists side-by-side with mundane encounters and an entertaining array of American oddities.

The entire road trip, the narrator watches his son. Their halting conversations, the distance between them — it’s America, and his son becoming American. Fascinating to watch the father process all this.

There are a lot of photographs from the past in which I’m holding you in my arms. And a father carrying a son in his arms is altogether a common sight. Far less frequent — and its complete opposite in emotional impact — is the image of a son carrying his father. Such as Aeneas carrying his old, weary father as they flee from burning Troy . . . I would not wish to live to a great age.

My Heart, pp. 101 – 102

There it is. A kind of foreshadowing. A decision has been made.

Funny, she didn’t have high expectations for this book, since she felt she would have little in common with a man from Bosnia. But the road trip. She adores the road trip.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Fathers and Sons 3

. . . I remember your college admissions interview. Your interviewer came to Alexandria, you met at the Starbucks at the end of King Street, beside the river. It was early summer, a lovely day, at the end of the garden the two of you were sitting at a table, I was at another. The distance between us was not great, so I could hear your conversation, not all of it, but I strained to hear as much as I could, and then came the moment when you said to that stranger: “My father is a writer and I want to distance myself from his interests, I want the two of us to be different and I’m not interested in literature!” I think I understood your reasons then, as I understand them now. The difference is that then your announcement (“I’m not interested in literature!”) hurt me, but now I remember it all with a certain pleasure and sympathy for the you who perhaps didn’t yet know what you wanted, but you evidently knew what you didn’t want.

My Heart, p. 91

Self is very, very surprised at what this book is turning out to be. No one ever said it was about the son.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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