Book Review | Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

29567845At the opening of Spaceman of Bohemia, protagonist Jakub is leaving Prague on a solo mission into space to collect cosmic dust. Leaving behind his wife Lenka is stressful for him and it’s not long before she runs away from being the “astronaut’s wife”. Jakub quickly grows weary of his alone time and makes friends with a giant spider-like creature he encounters aboard the ship. Coupled with alternating chapters from Jakub’s youth, the book is an existential voyage of an engaging nature.

For fans of the surreal and thought provoking, this debut novel would be a solid choice. A limited cast of characters and concise writing style make the text easily digestible. Some of the “flashback” chapters are a bit slower moving, but overall the book flows well. References to places in Prague will be appreciated by travelers. Spaceman of Bohemia is definitely literary fiction, not science fiction. Check it out from a library near you!

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Spaceman of Bohemia, you may be interested in The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia (2005).

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Film Review | The Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo & Matt Bomer

dvd cover the normal heart

Produced by HBO, The Normal Heart has a lot in common with the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. These films deal with the emergence and rapid increase of AIDS cases in the United States. The Normal Heart is an adaptation of a play by Larry Kramer that debuted in 1985. It places emphasis on both the gay men’s struggle happening in New York City and the personal life and relationship of an activist and New York Times reporter. The film starts out with Ned (Ruffalo) visiting his gay friends and the group learning about a new type of gay cancer (AIDS). They form a committee, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, with the intent to spread awareness, raise money and support those affected by the disease. Being the 1980’s, the men must tread a fine line with what is and is not socially acceptable and handle conflicts with those close to them.

The film does an excellent job showing how difficult things could have been at the time for gay men. The relationship between Ned and his lover (Bomer) is touching and tragic. The acting is well done and the film flows well. It may make you cry, but check it out from a library near you.

Book Review | Go Big Read – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

book cover The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, containing many layers, could appeal to a wide array of readers, each for different reasons. The story focuses on the history of African-American Henrietta Lacks and her cells, while also detailing related progress in the field of science and medicine, the struggle of her family, and quest for knowledge which resulted in this book. Author Rebecca Skloot coherently connects the pieces of several stories to come up with this successful non-fiction piece which explores ethical issues in science and poverty.

The book jumps right in, reminding me of an action movie in which new ideas are constantly being brought to the table. Skloot keeps the reader’s attention, and is effectively able to interweave the strands of a story that she methodically gathered over several years. Comparisons she draws between the Lacks family’s case and other pertinent health issues that have been brought to light over the years help the reader to become more informed about the medical field in general, giving this book much more of an appeal to the non-medical or non-scientist than previous books in the area may have had.

While I cannot say that I enjoyed this book, it was definitely more interesting than most of the non-fiction I encounter, and most people who I spoke with did recommend the book. Not only will it prompt your brain into action on several important issues, it will lead to thoughtful discussions with those who have read it.