An interview with Alon Preiss, the author of A Flash of Blue Sky, published by Chickadee Prince Books on March 1, 2016.
Chickadee Prince Books: Congratulations on publishing your book, at long last.
Preiss: Other web interviews just send out questions, and I can type out clever answers. It makes me sound smarter. And I don’t have to talk to anyone. I am not very sociable.
Most books set in the 1980s by U.S. authors have a narrow focus. But yours doesn’t.
The things that were happening in America during the 1980s had an effect around the globe. It wouldn’t be honest to satirize the 1980s and focus on some broker-dealer rep in a club in New York snorting cocaine.
Your novel follows a number of characters from the 1980s through the 1990s, all around the world. They rise in their careers, fall in and out of love, and they have an outsize impact on world history, without ever knowing it.
Everything has an impact on something else, and history is the result of random and forgotten and trivial events. So if a man decides to marry some woman, instead of some other woman, that could mean one war will end, and another war will commence. That’s just a scientific fact. Life and history is really very pointless and ridiculous. Absent some hanky panky in the 1988 presidential election on the Democratic side, there would have been no first President Bush, no W., no war in Iraq. Just because someone’s wife was out of town. Think of all the people who died in World War I because the Archduke’s driver made a wrong turn. And then the Kaiser’s humiliation in World War I led to the rise of Hitler, which led to the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews and millions of others. All because a chauffeur made a wrong turn.
World War I would have happened anyway.
But you don’t know that. I think many people died and many wives and mothers had their hearts broken just because a fellow took a wrong turn. So everything is connected, and not in a good and meaningful way – in a pointless and ridiculous way. That’s really the message of the book more than anything.
Kirkus says your book is about the fall of Communism.
Well, that sounds very smart, doesn’t it? It’s not about the fall of Communism. It’s just about the 1980s. Communism is a nice metaphor for life itself – everything about it sounds perfect, and whatever and whomever we really believe in will inevitably let us down. So if the book is about the fall of Communism, it’s really also about the death of Love and the end of Hope.
What about Joren, the mysterious, sort of ageless and mysterious figure? Hasn’t he loved Susan for a couple of thousand years?
Maybe yes. Or maybe he’s just nuts. Or she is. Maybe, like ideal romance – which he represents – he doesn’t exist. But if he has loved her for a couple of thousand years, what has it gotten him?
But it is also filled with humor. Daniel’s quest for enlightenment, for example.
Thank you. It happens to everyone eventually; in this case a lawyer who has basically chosen the route of corruption suddenly realizes that he is going to die, and he starts investigating spirituality, years after rejecting his Jewish roots. It amounts to pleading for his life before an entity that he has never believed in. There is this sense that if we believe in something deeply enough – God, eternal life, or even our own potential for success – it will come true. Have faith! If you believe in yourself, you will never fail! You know. But having deep faith in something will not make it real if it isn’t real, whether it is God or our own talents. Maybe you are talented. Maybe there is something out there. But our own belief cannot impact it. We are powerless. Our predicament as humans is quite funny and ridiculous, by its nature. We’re given potential and possibility, and all of that, and what does it amount to?
The book ends quite romantically.
A couple reunited in old age? You have to wonder about their wasted lives.
A Flash of Blue Sky is available for pre-order at your local bookstore, or on Amazon or any website. Click here to order on Amazon.