Aleksander Hemon’s “Love and Obstacles” follows the development of an unnamed Yugoslavian writer who immigrates to America before the wars tear apart his country. His escape is due to circumstance, not cowardice, but the narrator’s feelings of guilt riddle the pages. Hemon has an excellent eye for character and scenery. The cold of Wisconsin, the joie de vivre of a Sarajevo café, or the stagnancy of fundraisers are depicted with equal accuracy. The stories are not autobiographical, but the similarities between Hemon and the narrator are compelling. Each story stands alone, but as a series we see the narrator move from the searching adventurousness of adolescence to a resigned and somewhat abashed adulthood. “But the beauty of youth is that reality never quells desire,” writes Hemon in an early story. This brash optimism dissipates as the narrator moves toward middle age. Hemon chronicles the frustrations of youth and the past with an appreciation for that particular variety of despair rather than with mournful nostalgia.