A BRIEF HISTORY OF LIVING FOREVER , by Jaroslav Kalfar Jaroslav Kalfar’s first novel, “ Spaceman of Bohemia ” (2017), was about a vaguely bewildered Czech professor of astrophysics who blasts into space on an urgent mission. Once up there, his wife back on Earth leaves him and (worse?) a giant, hairy spider latches onto his spaceship. The spider, unlike his wife, can read his mind. The first half of “Spaceman of Bohemia,” which was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke award for science fiction and is being made into a film with Adam Sandler and Carey Mulligan, is inventive and charming: It makes you smile. The book reminded me of Victor Pelevin’s short, absurdist and moving Russian space novel, “ Omon Ra ” (1998). Pelevin’s book is about a soul sitting in a tin can, and it is ripe for rediscovery. In the second half of “Spaceman in Bohemia,” the spider probes into deeper matters, such as the professor’s history and the Czech Republic’s, and the novel slowly grows leaden. The … [Read more...] about Welcome to Immortality. Your Body Can’t Come With You.
Meet an Intergalactic Spider in ‘Spaceman of Bohemia’
SPACEMAN OF BOHEMIA All new books, but debut novels especially, are blind dates. The raconteur who charmingly burbles during drinks is tapped out of stories by the time the oysters arrive; the genius who wears his erudition so lightly over appetizers starts clubbing you over the head with it during dessert. ( No, your mind screams when things turn . And it was all going so well. ) I start a lot of debut novels in this job. Most betray me at some point or another — though a few make my heart do cartwheels, or at least a pirouette. Jaroslav Kalfar’s “Spaceman of Bohemia” is not a perfect first effort. But it’s a frenetically imaginative one, booming with vitality and originality when it isn’t indulging in the occasional excess. Kalfar’s voice is distinct enough to leave tread marks. He has a great snout for the absurd. He has such a lively mind and so many ideas to explore that it only bothered me a little — well, more than a little, but less than usual — that this book … [Read more...] about Meet an Intergalactic Spider in ‘Spaceman of Bohemia’