Spaceman of Bohemia

"Everything that exists, from consciousness to the digestive workings of the human body to sound waves and bladeless fans, is magnificently unlikely. It seems so much likelier that things would not exist at all and yet the world shows up to class every morning as the cosmos takes attendance. Why combat the unlikeliness? This is the way to survive in this world, to wake up in the morning and receive a cancer diagnosis, discover that a man has murdered forty children, discover that the milk has gone sour, and exclaim, “How unlikely! Yet here we are,” and have a laugh, and swim in the chaos, swim without fear, swim without expectation but always with an appreciation of every whim, the beauty of screwball twists and jerks that pump blood through our emaciated veins.”

I wasn't aware of "bohemian existentialism" as a type of novel until I fell in love with Italo Calvino's works; it wasn't until I picked up Spaceman of Bohemian that I realized there's a whole genre to discover.


The crux of it all? The absurdity of life, its beauty and horror, and how humanity copes on individual and collective levels. Jaroslav Kalfar zooms out to the cosmos, just as Calvino did years before in multiple works, before plunging back down into the depths of personal stories.


One way to summarize the plot is to say a spaceman begins talking to an alien spider that may or may not exist. A better way to explain would be to say that the way we perceive reality (relationships, patriotism, pride) is not always something we see clearly.


I think this is the kind of book that's more enjoyable if you go into it knowing the bare minimum, so I'll end the review there. But give it a try and maybe discover a new niche.