With refreshing depth, distinct literary merit, and highly original poetic phrasings that spill from the pages like paint, Colorado Mandala is poet Brian Heffron’s debut work of literary fiction. It mines the complex landscape of post-Vietnam America to unearth the deep connections that bind individuals together, and also ferociously rip them asunder. Illustrative, luscious, seductive, and engaging, this rare piece of craftsmanship will stir the senses of any one who thirsts for artistic expression, or who longs for an era in our country now utterly, irretrievably gone.
In the heady, hippie backdrop of Pike’s Peak, Colorado, in the tumultuous 1970s, three souls swirl together in an explosive supernova. Michael is the flinty-eyed, volatile former Green Beret, whose tour in Vietnam has left unbridgeable chasms in his psyche and secrets that can never find light. Sarah is his fair-haired paramour, the ethereal Earth Mother widow of a fallen soldier and single mother to a ten-year-old son Stuart. Paul is a young wanderer, who is drawn in by Michael and soon bears the mantle of both minister and scourge. As they are drawn together, and torn apart, each is changed forever. And our hearts race along with them, through the rocky, raw Colorado terrain amidst the blood sport of man and beast.
Laying bare the loss and acceptance of a pioneering age, Colorado Mandala shines revelatory light on the crazy, glorious, and romantic notion that each generation conceives anew: that love can be a spiritual gift shared openly rather than coveted, or hidden, or hoarded. If you wish to go barefoot again and climb an unspoiled Colorado trail, look no further. If you long for something to wake you up in simple, clean language, a shimmering story awaits. Awaken to what you have always known: simple truths show you the way home. With his gripping and unforgettable Colorado Mandala, it is clear that Brian Heffron knows the way. Simply follow his trail.
Thank you, Mr. Brian Heffron
Why “Colorado Mandala”? Can West and Asian put together?
The book’s title gives you the place and the theme in one. Inside the rugged mountains of the Colorado Rockies we watch the reassembly of a human psyche: A damaged man, who through the love and nurturing of both another man, and a woman, who both love him, is healed of a great scourge and horror that he acquired in Asia. Mandala is Sanskrit for the sacred circle of self: Michael Boyd Atman is healed by his friend Paul, and his lover Sarah; Our challenge is the same as theirs: a personal union of opposites; an acquisition of the Holy Grail in our own souls, a realization of our sacred self. It’s all in there: West and East. Life and death. Love and its absence.
There are advantages (or disadvantages) being a poet for a writer?
Have you researched for this book and about what aspects in particular? Why did you choose the Vietnam war and no other?
Believe it or not this book was written over the course of forty years. I started it when I was in the writing program at Emerson College in the seventies by interviewing returning veterans. I met, and became friends with many, many good returning Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, although, at that time, there was no such clinical diagnosis. I too have PTSD, so we soon fell in as brothers of a kind, these young Vets and I, and I wanted to honor them and tell their story. Many had returned from the war damaged from what they had seen and occasionally things they had done, and they sought peace and harmony in the “hippie movement”; That was what gave me the idea of making a former Green Beret become a blood brother with a young hippie. Colorado Mandala itself emerged on a hitchhiking trip I actually made to Manitou Springs Colorado in the mid-seventies. I met this fellow (who became my character Michael Boyd Atman) and together we climbed Pikes Peak and went down in real caves and just had all these great adventures. So I wrote them down in an old journal I had at that time and then I went back to Emerson in Boston and wrote it up for my writer-in-residence teacher Randall Banks, one of America’s finest novelists. He helped me carve that material into a book. But then, after college, I went to sea for two years as a sailor working my way up from Deckhand to Helmsman to Celestial Navigator to Delivery skipper and the book just languished; Eventually for decades. Then, last spring, I pulled it out and realized it was a kind of YA, “coming of age” book themed around PTSD, a subject very current in our culture. So I rewrote it taking advantage of all I had learned in the intervening years and the book grew up a bit and became something more.
Which is the most important message of your book? From the public reaction did you feel that your message was full and correct received?
Yes. The book is about a man driven to right a wrong he committed and his winds up doing a pretty good job, even though he is pretty crazy. There is also lots of love and adventure, but the book is deep and compelling on the subject of the human psyche, and based on the reviews I believe the readers have gotten that message and that delights me. Colorado Mandala has gotten thirty 5-Star reviews, and nine 4-Star reviews, nothing lower. I think that speaks very well of the book.
About the author:
After Brian Francis Heffron achieved a bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing from Emerson College, he has navigated across the Atlantic Ocean under sail (and found Gibraltar), was Director of Photography on “The Imported Bridegroom” a tiny Indy film that received a national theatrical release, created a heart-rending poetry blog within the Notes section of his Facebook profile that drew an avid, dedicated, and international audience, and all the while he wrote, produced, and directed hundreds of hours of television programming for KLCS-TV, a PBS Station focused on education.
On Valentine's Day 2010 he published a handmade poetry chapbook that sold out in three weeks! "Sustain Me with Your Breath" then became, and remains, a promotional e-book sensation.
Heffron followed that up with “Something You Could Touch”, a one hour spoken word poetry CD that broke sales records in its category.
Heffron has also won Emmys, Tellys, Aurora, Videographers and the Davis Award, among others plaudits for both writing and television.
Brian Francis Heffron’s debut novel, Colorado Mandala, mines the complex landscape of 1970s post-Vietnam America to chart the love triangle of a former Green Beret, his lover, and a young wanderer. Colorado Mandala straddles the line between literary and young adult fiction, and distills the author's poetic sensibility into a deeply lyrical work of art.
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