Book Review – Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist by Katerina Novotna

The full title of the book and the author is actually Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist: Power of Kratom and Opiates by Katerina Sestakova Novotna, which is a little unwieldy for a blog title.

This is the second book Novotna has written. The first was a collection of horror stories set around Hawaii and called Hawaiian Lei of Shrunken Heads – you can read that review here. Psychedelic Cure is a change in direction, away from the horror stories of Hawaiian Lei, but still an interesting story set in an interesting land. Rather than following the slow-burn horror stories, Novotna has turned her sharp mind inward and shown us the world through the eyes of a narcissist by the name of Eric.

Don’t worry, he’s not me. At least, I don’t think so.

Eric has, shall we say, issues. In the classic vein of narcissists everywhere, he views the world filtered through his own perceptions and sees everything only as it relates to him and his wants and needs. Like Lionel Hutz before him, Eric is a user of women. In his desperation to get back to the girl of his dreams, he agrees to be her guinea pig as she experiments with various mind-altering and mind-expanding chemicals. The result of this experiment is, shall we say, interesting. Just not in the way you expect it to be.

Here’s the thing about Psychedelic Cure, it’s not the book you really ever expect it to be, but it takes you in fascinating directions. It tackles some big issues including the relationships between men and women, discusses the idea of control in a relationship, and looks at the beneficence of chemical use for fun and profit. Much like the philosophers of yore before her (no great surprise since she has a Master’s in Philosophy), Novotna examines the issues through dialog between her characters. The story is, of course, important, but the sparkling elements of it are the underlying philosophical engagements with Miriam playing the role of being free as Eric plays the role of being a slave to his own desires.

I won’t go so far as to say it’s an easy book to read, not that it’s technically difficult, you just feel like you need a shower after being in Eric’s head for a spell, but it’s an excellent book to read and the ending is worth every word in the rest of the book. Don’t look for anything in your face (that’s my realm), Novotna plays things cooler and after reading Psychedelic Cure, you’ll find yourself going back and chewing on parts of it. That bit of subtlety is hard to pull off and makes this one of those books that you never really put down.

Eric is a selfish man who likes to come back to his exes for sex and money, but he does not pursue them as hard as he pursues new girls. Miriam, a student of psychology, becomes an exception to his rules. Three years after their break-up, the woman he thought he knew all too well to be impressed with suddenly claims to be able to guide people into a magical 4D porn experience.

Eric is trying to earn his place in Miriam’s privileged circle, but the girl who purports to be a therapist like no other is remarkably unstable herself. Eric suspects that she may have a different agenda than to entertain him, but the promise of a new form of sexual bliss seems worth the risk.

Does she want him back? Does she want to cure him? Does she want her revenge? It’s not clear what Miriam truly wants, but her wishes do not matter to Eric as long as he gets what he wants. But his own goals change, too, as the time goes on.

Miriam volunteers to be Eric’s guide in his psychedelic experience, but she also unintentionally becomes his teacher. He wants to learn to guide and fix others before he is fixed.

51wzj301cul

Get your copy here

Check out Katerina’s Facebook Author Page

As of right now Katerina doesn’t have any other social media sites out there.  I’ll update this post if she creates any.

Book Review – Hawaiian Lei of Shrunken Heads by Katerina Sestakova Novotna

I’ve only been to Hawaii once, about six years ago.  It was a beautiful place and about as alien to a desert dweller such as myself as you’re likely to get.  We have volcanoes out here, but they all blew up millenia ago so we’re left with cones and big rocks.  Hawaii has active volcanoes.  They have beaches with black sand and little crabs that glare at you when you don’t share your picnic.

Hawaii also a lot of traditional Gods.  That part wasn’t quite as alien to me; the Southwest is lousy with various Gods.  The Hawaiian Gods are pretty damned cool, though, and the traditional representations of them are pretty awesome.

Bottom line: Hawaii is a pretty cool place.

lei

So out of Hawaii’s long and interesting history comes Katerina Sestakova Novotna’s Hawaiian Lei of Shrunken Heads, a collection of stories both short and novella length about the various Gods and monsters of Hawaii and their interaction with outsiders.  Now, I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong here, but Katerina brings an interesting to angle to the stories.  She was born in the Czech Republic (which is interesting because I also work with a guy whose family is Czech) and has an ability to look at Hawaii’s history both as someone who lives there and someone who’s an outsider.  Her respect for the history and religion of the islands is obvious throughout the stories and she manages to weave traditions into stories that aren’t bogged down with explanation or exposition and are accessible to people who (like me) aren’t overly familiar with Hawaii’s traditional pantheons.

Even just from the explanation of some of the traditional gods you get a huge amount of bang for your buck.  Like Kū, the Hawaiian God of War who becomes the the background of the final story and, for all his fearsome visage, seems to be a decent sort if you approach him with respect.

ku

Come get me, Superman.

The stories are mostly horror stories but they’re not gruesome and there’s some lightheartedness thrown into the mix making for an interesting and engaging read.  Even if you’re not traditionally a horror fan these are some stories worth reading.  In Katerina’s hands, the Gods become real and walk the island.  If you’ve ever been to some of the more remote parts of Hawaii, you can almost imaging them walking out of the jungle.  It’s a deeply philosophical, highly entertaining, eye-opening read.

Buy It Here

As of right now Katerina doesn’t have any other social media sites out there.  I’ll update this post if she creates any.