For the past two years, I have been immersed in writing the last two memoirs of a trilogy, following up on the publication of the first, Prague: My Long Journey Home. The upcoming second book can be categorized in the subgenre of “coming-to-America” books, and its working title is Cowboy from Prague. The final book of the trilogy will be titled Ready, Fire, Aim! Tales of Entrepreneurial Terror and will consist of my experiences in the lunatic world of entrepreneurship. As I worked on the two manuscripts simultaneously, my memory and the journals I have kept for many years kept unearthing vignettes about famous, and near-famous, people I have been lucky enough to encounter since coming to America from the Czech Republic as a thirteen-year-old.
After I read the earliest of the stories—about Clint Eastwood, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and Wernher von Braun—to our critique group, my writer friends jokingly accused me of being a name-dropper. As I added vignettes starring such notables as Bill Clinton, Henry Iba, and Earl Weaver, my colleagues’ quips turned into compliments.
“These are great stories,” they said. “You have to include them in your next book.”
I tried. But there was a problem. If I compiled all these anecdotes into a single chapter, that chapter would be much too long. Moreover, because the stories span a period of more than fifty years, placing them into one chapter would destroy the continuity of the book. As a second possibility, I attempted to disperse the tales into various sections of the two books, where they might fit chronologically. This attempt, too, failed. Although some of them bore a direct relationship to my overall respective themes of the two books, most did not.
Finally, after a great deal of head-scratching, I concluded that it would be best to keep the stories together, but to separate them from the upcoming memoirs and to publish them as a short book. Yet, I worried that a book like this might be considered an exercise in vanity, something I attempt to avoid in my writing. But my writers’ group friends put me at ease. All three—Karen Cain, Paul Harrell, and Marilyn Recknor—gave their enthusiastic approval and even suggested a title.
“You should call it ‘Name-droppings,’ ” one of them advised, implying that my grandiloquence resembles the spreading of scat. I liked the image and went to work. With Name-droppings: Close Encounters with the Famous and Near-Famous a finished book, I must say that I feel honored and privileged to have met the men and women about whom I have dropped scat.