Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An ambassadorial endorsement of PRAGUE: MY LONG JOURNEY HOME

I was pleased and honored to receive the following endorsement for my upcoming book, Prague: My Long Journey Home, from His Excellency Petr Gandalovic, Czech Republic's Ambassador to the United States:

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading Charles Heller’s new book, Prague: My Long Journey Home, an insightful and inspiring glimpse into the life of a man who was forced to deny his ethnic roots after coming to his new country but sought to uncover his old identity years later. Mr. Heller’s personal story, rather exceptional within the Czech-American community, touches upon several painful topics of our past and forces us to think about our identity in relations to our homeland. His authentic, powerful experiences present a better understanding of our history. I thank Charles Heller for having the courage to share his poignant and profound story with the world, in order to have a record of a history that should never be forgotten."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


As Prague: My Long Journey Home enters the production stage, endorsements are coming in from its early readers. Here are three:

“I enjoyed reading Charles Heller’s book Prague: My Long Journey Home. Having lived through the same times in occupied Czechoslovakia and later under Communists, coming to America 20 years after Dr. Heller, I understand and appreciate his experiences. His life is an example of tragedy, talent, enthusiasm, accomplishment and of never giving up. I was so impressed by the book that I invited Charles to present his life story at the Conference of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) in New York in June 2011. Response of the audience was overwhelming. In fact, it was suggested to put it on the program of the 26th World Congress of SVU again in 2012. What a story!”

Karel Raška, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.
President, Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New Brunswick, NJ

“It is not enough to record history; we must invigorate it. If generations after us listen and learn from history and make the world better for having done so, it will be because we told good stories. Charles Heller, by vividly recounting the story of his life, provides a window to the Czech-American immigrant experience, and makes an important contribution to the body of literature that will capture the hearts and minds of the future.”
Gail Naughton
President/CEO, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Prague: My Long Journey Home is an entertaining, compelling, and valuable complement to the several books I have read about Czech immigration to the U.S. It happened to a college classmate and professional colleague, not to someone’s grandparents. It puts a human face on the many stories of suffering, torture, and determination to seek freedom and succeed that had been ‘just on paper.’ Documentaries on Terezín, Lidice, Heydrich, and the aftermath of WW-II make the book even more valuable in telling ‘the rest of the story.’ ”
Bart Childs
Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PRAGUE: MY LONG JOURNEY HOME is in production!

As of this week, all edits and preliminary tasks are finished. Prague: My Long Journey Home is in production at Abbott Press. The cover for the soft-cover version and the dust jacket for the hard-cover book are being prepared, and the manuscript is in the process of typesetting, pagination, etc. It's an exciting time.

The approximate publication schedule is:
     e-book -- late December
     soft-cover book -- early January
     hard-cover book -- late January

Thank you for your interest, and please watch for my announcements of publication dates.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pat Conroy 'Way Back Then

As readers of this blog know, I'm a huge fan of Pat Conroy. I consider him the finest living American writer and am insanely jealous of his ability to paint lifelike characters and scenes, and to keep a story moving at a torrid pace. I am on a mission to read three or four of his books which, for some strange reason, I have missed along the way. At the moment, I'm reading The Great Santini. A few days ago, I finished Conroy's first book, The Boo. The latter experience was a bit of a shock because, until I went back and read the introduction, I thought I was reading a book written by someone else.

The Boo is the nickname of a man --Lt. Colonel Thomas Nugent Courvoisie, Assistant Commandant of Cadets -- a major figure in the author's life while he (Conroy) was a cadet at The Citadel. The book is a collection of stories of cadet life at the South Carolina military school. Since I failed to read the introduction before beginning to read the body of the book, I was struck by the fact that something was missing: Conroy's usual gorgeous descriptions of people and places, the beauty and passion of his writing -- those characteristics I've come to expect of this great writer.

Finally, about halfway through The Boo, I returned to the introduction, and then I understood. This was Pat Conroy's first book, written when he was a young man only recently having graduated from The Citadel, one who wanted to be a poet. In his own words:  "...it would take me years to learn that prose required the same intensity and commitment (as poetry) of spirit. In 1969, prose was something I dashed off quickly; prose, all my prose, was a letter to the world telling what happened to me last summer. The Boo was my longest letter to the world; it was my angriest."

Once I read the introduction, I enjoyed the book immensely. Not only did it provide me with a picture of the life of a cadet, written by a young man who had only recently departed from that fortress of discipline, but it demonstrated the growth of a writer from the amateurish first pages to the mature voice of a writer at the end. Any fan of Pat Conroy needs to read The Boo in order to appreciate his growth as a writer.