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Alexander Boldizar makes a literary comeback with The Man Who Saw Seconds

Boldizar’s follow up novel follows Preble Jefferson, a New Yorker who can see five seconds into the future
Author Alexander Boldizar's The Man Who Saw Seconds follows the story of Preble Jefferson, a man who can see five seconds into the future. | Simon Smith

Jumping around countries, languages, and careers is what Alexander Boldizar does best.

The author of the newly published The Man Who Saw Seconds was the first post-independence Slovak citizen to graduate with a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Since then, he has been an art gallery director in Bali, a pseudo-geisha in Japan, a hermit in Tennessee, an attorney in San Francisco and Prague, a consultant on Wall Street, and a police-abuse watchdog and Times Square billboard writer in New York City.

However, North Vancouver is the city where he has lived the longest, since 2009.

“I was eight when we escaped from Czechoslovakia. So, my first four languages were learned by virtue of being in Europe. Chronologically, my first two languages were Slovak and Hungarian. Then Czech, because everybody in Czechoslovakia spoke Czech and Slovak. I spoke German in the refugee camp in Austria. After moving to Canada, I learned English. I never studied the first four languages; my education was basically in English,” the writer says.

His first novel, The Ugly, was a best-seller among small presses in the United States with several “Best Book of 2016” awards and lists. After eight years, he’s back with a science fiction thriller.

The Man Who Saw Seconds, released by New York-based independent publisher CLASH Books, is about a fictional character, Preble Jefferson, who can see five seconds into the future. Government agencies become aware of Preble’s gift, a manhunt ensues, and their ambitions shift from law enforcement to military R&D.

The Man Who Saw Seconds is a fast-paced adventure story, yet what matters most to Boldizar as its writer is its emotional core.

“It’s about a father protecting his son. When my son was four, he was abducted for a week. Although this actual experience of mine is not in the plot, the emotions from it have made the story I’ve written more realistic. That’s one of the beautiful things about writing. You can take something that was very stressful at the time and turn it into something positive later. A big part of the book comes from that emotional side.”

Referring to the concept of “paradoxical counterproductivity” presented by Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich, Boldizar says, the intellectual side of The Man Who Saw Seconds entertains the idea of how all institutions end up working against the purpose for which they’re created; the Ministry of Defence ends up starting wars, schools make children more stupid, hospitals kill their patients, or even something like a car creates the remoteness, something that it’s meant to overcome.

The main character of The Man Who Saw Seconds will do whatever it takes to protect his family, but as events spiral out of control, he must weigh the cost of his gift against

the loss of his humanity. For the author of the fiction, it’s interesting to see how far the reader agrees with the protagonist.

“I’ve had different reactions. Some readers go with him all the way.”

Boldizar is passionate about creating complex characters. He believes that fiction is the only art form that can fully immerse both the writer and the reader in the perspectives, life stories, morality, and ethics of entirely different individuals.

“With fiction, you have to inhabit somebody you don’t necessarily agree with. But you start to understand the role from their side. The ability to make the reader see the world from a completely different viewpoint is so valuable. People think fiction is just pure entertainment, but that skill of multiple perspectives, I think, is so necessary for any democracy.”

Boldizar, who has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, says the sport is his obsession. “I love the instant feedback you receive when practicing jiu-jitsu. BJJ mindset is ‘losers learn,’ similar to how babies learn to walk. They don’t see falling as failure; they just adapt until they succeed. Writers should adopt this mindset as well.”

Even though it’s fresh off the press, The Man Who Saw Seconds has already received glowing reviews from the likes of Locus, the science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine. It has been mentioned in four different articles in Publisher’s Weekly, an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers, and literary agents and Reactor ( list of can’t miss speculative fiction.

But Boldizar has received the most pleasant feedback from Dr. Galen Buckwalter, the research psychologist behind eHarmony’s successful algorithms. In 2000, eHarmony was among the first online dating sites to develop and patent a matching algorithm for pairing users with compatible partners. On June 6th, the author and Buckwalter will discuss the book at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California.

Fatemeh Falah is an intern reporter with the North Shore News. She can be contacted at [email protected].