Spaceman of Bohemia PDF Â Spaceman of PDF/EPUB or

Spaceman of Bohemia PDF Â Spaceman of  PDF/EPUB or A proud nation witnesses Jakub Proch zka s ascent as he launches skyward from a state owned potato field to become the first ever spaceman of Bohemia He thinks he has escaped terrestrial problems from his father s legacy as a brutal communist informer to his wife, Lenka, whom he loves yet no longer understands but he is wrong Alone above the earth, his only solace comes in the form of a possibly hallucinatory arachnid with a penchant for existential philosophy and Nutella Museums across the world will carry Jakub s likeness schoolchildren will repeat his name for centuries to come He came to space to tread the heavens, to grasp infinity But first, he needs to find a way home SpacemanOfBohemia An incredible experience I can honestly say I loved every page Every sentence Spaceman of Bohemia is unforgettable a work of breathtaking scope and heart, and a reflection of humanity that s raw and strange and profound and true Lisa McInerney, author of the Bailey Prize winning The Glorious Heresies With JanHus1lie our hopes of new sovereignty and prosperity, for we are now among the explorers of the universe We look away from our past, in which we were claimed by others, in which our language was nearly eradicated, in which Europe covered its eyes and ears as its very heart was stolen and brutalized It is not only our science and technology traveling through this vacuum it is our humanity, in the form of Jakub Proch zka, the first spaceman of Bohemia, who will carry the soul of the rep With JanHus1lie our hopes of new sovereignty and prosperity, for we are now among the explorers of the universe We look away from our past, in which we were claimed by others, in which our language was nearly eradicated, in which Europe covered its eyes and ears as its very heart was stolen and brutalized It is not only our science and technology traveling through this vacuum it is our humanity, in the form of Jakub Proch zka, the first spaceman of Bohemia, who will carry the soul of the republic to the stars Today, we finally and absolutely claim ourselves for our own.Spaceman of Bohemia can beor less broken into two parts In the first half, we meet Jakub Proch zka the Czech Republic s first astronaut as he makes a four month spaceflight towards a storm of cosmic dust that has been captured by Venus gravity forming a ring around that planet and purpling the night skies on Earth Although his preflight psychologist had warned Jakub of the probability of hallucinations brought on by the stress of a solo voyage , when a giant arachnid alien appears aboard the space shuttle, Jakub keeps its existence a secret from Control and assents to the being probing his mind and memories for an understanding of humanry This device worked really well to share not only Jakub s history, but that of his homeland too the granting of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in the 30s in an effort to avoid WWII the West s abandonment of the country to the Soviet Union the bloodless Velvet Revolution that suddenly saw the local Party elite finding themselves on the wrong side of history all of this played out within the story of Jakub s own family and I was totally immersed in the storyline And then events happen and the book becomes something else at the risk of spoiling anything, I do want to note that Jakub s experience from this point echoes that of Jan Hus the medieval Czech priest philosopher for whom his spacecraft was named is that clever or too obvious, especially when spelled out for us This second half wasn t bad really, but I was no longer so engrossed Wasn t all life a form of phantom being, given its involuntary origin in the womb No one could guarantee a happy life, a safe life, a life free of violations, external or eternal Yet we exited birth canals at unsustainable speeds, eager to live, floating away to Mars at the mercy of Spartan technology or living simpler lives on Earth at the mercy of chance We lived regardless of who observed us, who recorded us, who cared where we wentI didn t flip to the author bio until I reached this second half, and when I saw that Jaroslav Kalfa has a hipster beard and an MFA and is living and writing in Brooklyn, that suddenly made sense and I ll say here again that I m not generally a fan of hipster bearded, Brooklyn based writers with MFAs Spaceman employs the same brand of energy draining satire I dislike from, say, Gary Shteyngart On the other hand, it was interesting to read that Kalfa was born and raised in Prague, relocating to the US at fifteen So, putting aside all the efforts at philosophy and the exploration of humanry that didn t really resonate with me, I thought that Spaceman did a wonderful job of exploring the Czech experience rural peasant life and urban yuppidom years of living under totalitarian control and now striving for Capitalist decadence the pride of a people who honour the great personages in their past and yearn to see the birth of a modern legend all that I learned about the Czech people was worth the entire less than fulfilling reading experience I loved this novel Kalfa has created something unique here, equal parts emotional love letter to home with all that word represents and sci fi thrill ride with possibly hallucinated space spiders There aren t many books that poke at their presumed genre conventions in this way, with high literary prose mingled with outer space action and paeans to nutella Consider this representative sequence Jakub, our protagonist, a space dust researcher from the Czech Republic, is dealing with emotio I loved this novel Kalfa has created something unique here, equal parts emotional love letter to home with all that word represents and sci fi thrill ride with possibly hallucinated space spiders There aren t many books that poke at their presumed genre conventions in this way, with high literary prose mingled with outer space action and paeans to nutella Consider this representative sequence Jakub, our protagonist, a space dust researcher from the Czech Republic, is dealing with emotional trauma He leaves his vessel with his possibly hallucinated alien friend Hanu and floats into an odd supernatural cloud At this moment of peak suspense, there ensues a lovely, seemingly disconnected chapter, Prague in Spring This is written in the present tense, showcasing Kalfa s beautiful writing about home We are a hub of tanned stomachs, muscled arms, full lips clinching cigarettes, there among the sweating seniors dragging their groceries and the bulge cutted beer lovers stuffed into suits, those apostles of capitalism with their clean shaven chins buried in the business sections of newspapers Jakub begins to date his future life Lenka, who seems a presence unaffected by the square s chaos and hostilityshe invites love It is as genuinely romantic a sequence that I can remember The action is suspended at a beautiful point, with Jakub marrying Lenka, thinking of his beloved grandfather s ashes We have almost forgotten that we are in space Then I passed through the knot of time like sand slipping away inside an hourglass, grain by grain, atom by atomThis is what elements do They leap into darkness until something else catches hold of them Energy has no consciousness Force plots no schemes Things crash into one another, form alliances until physics rips them apart and sends them in opposite directions This sequence is characteristic of what the book is hoping to accomplish There s a Nabokovian structure going on here, with much of the jacket copy and hype dealing with the first half of the novel What comes after this bravura, centerpiece sequence that I ve outlined I won t spoil it was as exciting to me as the galactic mysteries of the first half A there and back again I see this compared to Lem a lot, and I think that might be lazy I LOVE Solaris, but that is a sparser book, and humorless It reminds meof another great Eastern European writer Hrabal in Space Existence runs on energy, a fluid movement forward, yet we never stop seeking the point of origin, the Big Bang that set us upon our inevitable course Jakub Proch zka, the first Czech in space, is sent on a solo mission to collect dust from the mysterious Chopra cloud The long journey through the cosmos gives him plenty of time to ponder the state of his marriage His wife Lenka is getting increasingly distant during their chats One day, Lenka goes into hiding and doesn t show up for their Existence runs on energy, a fluid movement forward, yet we never stop seeking the point of origin, the Big Bang that set us upon our inevitable course Jakub Proch zka, the first Czech in space, is sent on a solo mission to collect dust from the mysterious Chopra cloud The long journey through the cosmos gives him plenty of time to ponder the state of his marriage His wife Lenka is getting increasingly distant during their chats One day, Lenka goes into hiding and doesn t show up for their weekly call Devastated by her disappearance, he sinks into a deep depression That s when a Nutella loving alien spider appears Jakub names him Hanu , after a Czech clockmaster Is Hanu real or a figment of his imagination, perhaps a personification of his fears Jakub s conversations with Hanu help him assess his life and determine what drove him to this point Can this expedition into the unknown help him overcome his father s sins Will he survive the dangerous journey and return home Even if he finds his way back to Earth, will Lenka remain permanently out of reach Wasn t all life a form of phantom being, given its involuntary origin in the womb No one could guarantee a happy life, a safe life, a life free of violations, external or eternal Yet we exited birth canals at unsustainable speeds, eager to live, floating away to Mars at the mercy of Spartan technology or living simpler lives on Earth at the mercy of chance We lived regardless of who observed us, who recorded us, who cared where we went Spaceman of Bohemia is a mix of science fiction, history, politics and philosophy Sometimes I saw shades of Kurt Vonnegut Hanu and Anthony Marra Jakub s childhood The story takes a messier path than I usually prefer, but it actually worked for me here It fits with the way Hanu interacts with Jakub s memories and mirrors the tangled web of human history Jakub s journey shifts halfway through I preferred the first half There was less room for humor in the second half I also missed some of the characters from the beginning The writing was always gorgeous, but sometimes too ornate for me I d get lost in a sentence and have to start over or I d lose sight of Jakub during the philosophical ruminations I started to see the author s hand in the second half, but it was still a pleasure to readYou know that the world is always trying to take us This country, that country We can t fight the whole world, the ten million of us, so we pick the people we think should be punished, and we make them suffer the best we can In one book, your father is a hero In another book, he is a monster The men who don t have books written about them have it easierCzechoslovakia s Velvet Revolution, the bloodless overthrow of the authoritarian Communist government in 1989, marks a turning point in Jakub s life Jakub s father was a member of the secret police he informed on his neighbors and participated in torture Once the Communists lose power, the man who was feared becomes a target After his death, Jakub and his grandparents face the full brunt of the community s resentment Jakub considers himself the biological carrier of his father s curse Every step he takes is intended to overcome his father s mistakes Are our parents flaws embedded in our DNA, destining us to repeat their mistakes One character notices that Jakub and his father share the same terminal decision to serve Would Jakub s father have always been attracted to brutality, or could his worst impulses be harnessed for good in the right conditions Is Jakub proof that his father s actions were borne out of circumstance Love could turn us all into war criminals One of Jakub s biggest fears is being a nobody It s part of why he s so intent on having children Jakub sees firsthand how the things that drive us can also destroy us As good as Jakub tries to be, he isn t perfect He s willing to trample over other people to survive and I can t say I blamed him He imagines a man tortured for selfish means He even has Lenka followed, despite feeling guilty about it Jakub was completely blindsided by Lenka s disappearance His travels caused some strain on their relationship, but he thought that their love was enough to hold them together He was too caught up in his own goals to notice that his marriage might not be going as well as he thoughtPeople become abstractions And the things weighing on you become clear That s why people are so afraid to be away from each other, I think The truth begins to creep in The physical distance between Jakub and Lenka deepens cracks in a marriage already on a shaky foundation How could he have been so distant from the person he thought he was closest to How could he have been so unaware of what was going on right in front of him It was exhilarating, all of it was existence alone not revolution Our efforts to establish routines in the nature that forbade them, to understand depths we could never reach, to declare truths even as we collectively snicker at the word s virginal piousness What a mess of contradictions the gods created when they graced us with self awarenessWhy are we here Is a life made most meaningful by a person s achievements or the intimate relationships they make along the way Who has it better in life those who live simple lives or those whose names are still uttered because of their contributions to society Is living a quiet life enough Jakub expresses wonderment at humanity s unstoppable march forward When he looks at Old Town Square in Prague, he sees all of its iterations through the decades the things that change for the good, the things that change for the worse, and the things that only change on the surface Life is messy, but alway moving He feels an overwhelming love of humanity and a sense of pride to be a part of it all He sees the value in people who propel us forward without any thought to self preservation, but also in those who keep moving forward with their day to day lives despite everything going around them As driven as Jakub was to explore the unknowns of space, he realizes there are many mysteries to explore on the Earth too In a way, we are all exploring the unknown, feeling our way through the dark How unlikely Yet here we are Isolation makes Jakub see what he values and what he really wants out of his life Will Jakub get a second chance to live for himself He ll have to confront many uncomfortable truths first Like with many of these stories packed with lots of big ideas, I m not confident that I absorbed everything It was a messy, beautiful journey, very much like life.I received this book for free from Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review It s available now Another quote that struck me, but I couldn t work it into my review The greatness of a nation is in its symbols, its gestures, in doing things that are unprecedented It s why the Americans are falling behind they built a nation on the idea of doing new things, and now they d rather sit and pray that the world won t make them adapt too much. This book wasn t at all what I thought it would be I went in expecting maybe a slightly wacky space travel tale, about the first Czech astronaut in space meeting an extraterrestrial life form while going about his mission What I got was a Kafka esque, vaguely allegorical story about the first Czech astronaut in space, with lots of rumination about politics, relationships, privacy, family, and many other topics Jakub is chosen for a mission to investigate a potentially dangerous dust cloud i This book wasn t at all what I thought it would be I went in expecting maybe a slightly wacky space travel tale, about the first Czech astronaut in space meeting an extraterrestrial life form while going about his mission What I got was a Kafka esque, vaguely allegorical story about the first Czech astronaut in space, with lots of rumination about politics, relationships, privacy, family, and many other topics Jakub is chosen for a mission to investigate a potentially dangerous dust cloud in space, and he sees this as an opportunity to redeem his family s name his father was a Communist enforcer before the 1989 revolution He leaves behind a wife, knowing that the mission could be suicide He has started to feel the psychological stress of months alone in space when he meets a giant alien spider Philosophical conversations between spaceman and alien ensue And I know this is kind of weird, but I kept singing the song Dream Ghost from Crazy Ex Girlfriend while I was reading, because it s never really clear if the spider was hallucinated or actually real And also its purpose in the story is the same purpose that Michael Hyatt, Ricki Lake, and Amber Riley explain in the song giving advice you kind of already knew The space journey and its potential disasters is interspersed with Jakub s personal history how his father s career affected his childhood, how he met his wife, and the tensions in their marriage It was fine, but I was expectingof a space adventure kind of story and so I was honestly a little bored by all the rumination I wasn t really sure that I was headed towards a point For the record, we were headed towards a point Jakub s story is actually brought full circle in a fairly powerful way But that didn t happen until the last fifty pages and by that point, I was just too disengaged from the story for it to reeeaaaally have a significant impact on me And that s a shame, because I think this could be a great fit for a different reader, someone who s a littleinterested in reading a philosophical Czech novel that just so happens to be set in space

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