Monday, July 26, 2010

A book deal!

After parting company with my literary agent several weeks ago, I implemented a new strategy for getting my book -- Out of Prague: A Memoir of Survival, Denial, and Triumph -- published. Following the example of several other first-time American authors of books dealing with the Second World War and/or the Holocaust, I decided to try to get my book published in Europe first. The writers whose paths I followed found European publishers, had their books translated into the respective native languages, and saw their books have successful sales runs. Book deals made in Europe caught the interest of American publishers, who -- based on this new credibility -- signed the authors to contracts for the U.S. market.

For me, the natural target was my native country -- the Czech Republic. I queried one of the largest publishers in the nation, Mlada Fronta -- a firm which owns one of the country's major newspapers, 45 magazines, and publishes more than 200 book titles each year. Within a week, I received an expression of interest and a request for the full manuscript. I sent it immediately and, one week later, we were discussing specifics. One month ago, we met in Prague and came to an agreement.

Currently, I am making a few modification to make the book more suitable to Czech readership. As I finish editing each chapter, I send it to Prague for translation. We will launch the book (with the same subtitle as the English version, but with a different title -- most probably, Long Way Home) at the Prague Book Fair, in early May 2011. A book tour in the Czech Republic will follow. More good news: one of the finest, and most beloved, contemporary Czech writers -- Arnost Lustig -- has agreed to write the Foreword of the book. I am honored and extremely pleased.

Naturally, I am excited and anxious to see my memoir on the bookshelves of my native country. At the same time, I hope to find an American publisher who will bring Out of Prague to American readers.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I can't resist!

Everyone else in America is writing about the LeBron James debacle, and I can't resist chiming in. Up front, I must say that I love basketball too much to be able to watch the game played by today's National Basketball Association. There was a time -- that of Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and all the way up to that of Larry Bird -- when professional basketball in the US was as exciting, and as well played, as the game's college version. All that changed with a guy named Michael Jordan. Enormously talented, he was permitted to change the rules. He palmed the ball, he double-dribbled, he drove through the lane while taking three steps without dribbling, and his defense consisted of waving an arm at his man as the latter drove by. The game became a sham -- and it continues so.

The poor quality of the NBA game is surpassed only by that of the character of some of its players. Coddled and managed from their early teens, these guys have been convinced by their adoring hangers-on and the cooperating sports press that the world revolves around them. There is no better example than the man-child who appointed himself "The King" -- LeBron James. This selfish oaf, with full cooperation from newspapers, magazines, and ESPN, deserted the city of Cleveland accompanied by fanfare which displaced news of deaths in Afganistan, oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, and the excitement of the World Cup.

Why does this disturb me so? It's the fact that people actually care about a jerk like LeBron James -- a guy who couldn't carry Bill Russell's jockstrap.