Releasing Charlie into the World

Thumb Native Carl Reinelt to Release New Book

Author Carl Reinelt has announced the release of his new book, Charlie’s Ladder, from Gogisgi Press on November 11th. Photo courtesy of Carl Reinelt/Gogisgi Press.
Author Carl Reinelt has announced the release of his new book, Charlie’s Ladder, from Gogisgi Press on November 11th. Photo courtesy of Carl Reinelt/Gogisgi Press.


For long as he could remember, Charlie Houden had been dead.

Thus begins the first line of a story too bizarre to be believable, and too true to be ignored.  The following is an article that ran in a local, home-town newspaper recently, announcing the release of Charlie's Ladder...


For Carl Reinelt, whose novel Charlie’s Ladder is scheduled for publication by Gogisgi Press on November 11th, his new book has been “a long time coming.”  In the book, we journey with the main character, Charlie Houden, as he explores his place and purpose in the world, all while grappling with the fine line between choice and fate in determining one’s path in life. “Charlie comes face to face with the question of ‘Who are we?’ in the context of ‘Why are we here?’” explains Reinelt. “I don’t paint Charlie as a hero but as an antihero. He is deeply flawed but very brave—far braver than I am.” 

Reinelt felt called to embark on what has become a very ambitious writing project in 2015 and by this time feels as though he has been working on this book all his life. Admittedly, the voice inside his head telling him to write a book—which came on the heels of a surgery that could have taken his life—was so pervasive that the project at times felt like “something I didn’t ask for” but rather an assignment from a higher power to use himself as a vessel to communicate deeper truths to readers. During its eight years of development, the project has grown from a standalone book to a two-book series, the second of which will be released next year. Reinelt has also seen Charlie’s Ladder evolve from an exploration of his own experiences to “an exploration of something much bigger than me.” 

Accompanied by this call to write a book was the inkling that he needed to return to the Thumb to do it. Reinelt spent four weeks immersed in research and writing in and around his hometown, a deeply meaningful experience that he can only describe as “revelatory.” He found himself pouring over research through archives at the Harbor Beach Area District Library, learning about everything from Civil War heroes with local roots to the great firestorms of 1871 and 1881 that devastated area communities and took the lives of hundreds in the Thumb. Through this historical backdrop and understanding, he was able to connect Charlie’s journey, much of which takes place across the Thumb, to “generational themes of suffering, loss, and resilience.” 

While it often seems to Reinelt that the path to becoming an author chose him rather than the other way around, in retrospect, he is glad that he took a leap of faith by penning the story he felt called to tell. Initially worried that he would not be able to gather enough information from his travels in the Thumb, he soon discovered that those fears were unfounded as he came across a treasure trove of information right in his place of birth. Reinelt feels grateful not only that he followed his instincts in returning to the Thumb but that his wife gave him her full trust and support as he pursued this seemingly strange calling to go away to write a book. Her only stipulation was that Reinelt have an outline in hand before making the journey from Texas to Michigan. 

Reinelt hopes that the finished book resulting from his travels will reach and benefit many people, including folks residing in the Thumb communities he once called home, where he learned many lessons that would influence his life and career years later. Before graduating from Ubly High School, Reinelt attended a two-room schoolhouse outside of Argyle with many other children who, like him, were not wealthy but enjoyed the richness of simple pleasures like walking to school and cutting across the fields of local farmers. From his earliest years attending school, he recalls the expectation that the older students help their younger peers, which instilled in him the belief that “you can acclimate and elevate yourself with the help of others.” 

Today Reinelt’s personal values center on the ideas of choice, making decisions that move one’s life in a positive direction, and transcendence, influencing the lives of others in a positive direction through one’s conscious choices to overcome adversity.  In his book series, he challenges Charlie to grapple with both choice and transcendence. Reinelt expects many readers will identify with Charlie because “no person comes through life unscathed,” and just like Charlie, everyone is tasked with discovering if and how it is possible to “course-correct” when needed and reach a better outcome in life. 

As they follow Charlie’s journey battling both internal and external forces, Reinelt hopes that readers are moved to consider the power of choice and to take ownership of their lives when and to what extent they can. While Charlie is initially confronted with abuse and trauma outside of his control, later in life, he finds the tools, resources, and resolve to “take himself out of victimhood and turn things around.” Through his book, Reinelt also hopes to challenge the limited scope most people currently have for understanding the dynamics of abuse, which are “commonly understood against a specific backdrop and characterized by male perpetrators.”

While Charlie’s Ladder primarily explores Charlie’s journey of coming to terms with his past and exerting a sense of control and choice over his present, its sequel will delve further into the idea of transcendence and “how we can impact one another in ways that bring either profound joy and beauty, or profound pain and destruction.” 

Reinelt has previously published two other books, which were shorter in length than Charlie’s Ladder and gave him the opportunity to test himself as a writer before launching what he considers his best work to date. From those book launches, Reinelt learned a great deal not only about the writing and publishing process but about his motivations as a writer. He discovered how important it was, and is, for him to set personally meaningful goals that are not driven by the financial bottom line. True to that sentiment, he feels called to share Charlie’s Ladder not for his personal success or satisfaction but with the expectation and hope that his work may be of benefit to others. 

“I have come to realize that when there is something I feel is personal and unique to me, it's often true that many other people have had that same experience, and I am not so special or alone in the world as I think,” Reinelt says with a light-hearted laugh. “That is why Charlie's Ladder is not so much a road map as it is a compass. I hope this piece of writing will resonate with those seeking healing from victimhood. I hope others find things in the book that help them begin or pick up their journey of healing. I measure success only in the context of this book finding readers with eyes to see the greater truths within it...and within ourselves, if we have the courage to act.”



If you are reading this, my humble hope is that this book finds its way into the hands of those "with eyes to see" the truth of our nature and our relationship to human suffering.  We all deserve love, regardless our imperfect, very messy selves.  But what is done to us as children echoes in eternity, often destroying any hope for love.

May you, dear reader, find that love...and blossom by sharing with all whom you meet.

Peace.  Shalom.

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