Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař comes out today! We asked the author to share his thoughts on publication day.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, and maintained this desire despite life doing its best to knock it out of me. Books have always been the most important part of my experience, filled my gaps in the knowledge of the world, inspired me, favorite characters carried me through hard times like friends reaching across the boundaries of time and space. Now I sit at my desk next to boxes of books that carry my name. Their book siblings will be making their way into the world on Tuesday, ending up on nightstands, inside messenger bags and purses, atop park benches, the cover dyed a faint green by the fresh spring grass stems (this is wishful thinking, as New York is stunningly cold and hostile as I write).
Once upon a time I considered writing a book a complete impossibility – sure, my mind had been overfilled with stories, but I was raised in a very practical working class family. My father considered books to be a distraction and believed in working with one’s hands. In his household, immersing myself in novels was a flight of fancy, and my early writing attempts were considered a hobby that would leave me soon enough. It wasn’t a hobby, and it didn’t leave me. Now that I am grown, I don’t believe for a second that writing, that art, is impractical. You sit down and you work and you do it until you are certain you’ve produced something worth saying to other human beings. That seems practical to me. And I can now report that the practice does yield results, if one can overcome the frustrations and the fears and write the book that presents the best version of its authors obsessions.
I rarely sleep well through a night, but on the day my book is released into the world, I will sleep the solid slumber of an unburdened child. It will be partly to the amounts of bourbon I plan to drink, it will be because I’ll be high on the company of my friends and family, the human beings I love sharing with me in the moment. It will be due to the release of stress currently cramping my muscles like a fever, but mostly, mostly it will be because for the first time, I will have had the honor of contributing to that which has sustained me all my life. Books.
I will wake up on the morning after the release day and hopefully, there will be cold pizza to eat for breakfast. I will enjoy a slow morning, look out into the street, pick up whatever empty bottles there may be laying around. And after those few hours of serenity, I will sit back in the chair, and I will continue writing the Next One. The second novel is already an obsession, a shadow that has outgrown the first in my mind. There is no better way to celebrate a book or a life – this practice of writing, of looking ahead, of always obsessing and seeking things yet unsaid begging to be spoken.
Jaroslav Kalfař was born and raised in Prague, Czech Republic, and immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen. He earned an MFA at New York University, where he was a Goldwater Fellow and a nominee for the inaugural E. L. Doctorow Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn. Spaceman of Bohemia is his first novel.