The Writings of
Robert M. Katzman
The following story appeared in several publications of Pioneer Press and is presneted here with their permission.

We made the cover of The Chicago Jewish News!

June 12, 2009

Self-published author is the real deal

July 3, 2008


Deerfield resident Robert M. Katzman has been an entrepreneur since the age of 15 when he opened a newsstand in Hyde Park. Through the years, he has run a kosher delicatessen, a world travel foreign language bookstore and, for the past 18 years, a vintage magazine store called Magazine Memories in Morton Grove.

Anyone who has ever met Katzman knows he is a man of strong opinions. He is also a person who has endured more than his share of pain -- including childhood abuse, financial and personal setbacks, and 29 surgeries -- yet he retains an inspiring zest for life.

Katzman is also an excellent and honest writer, which makes his latest book, Hot Sex! And Small Change engrossing reading. It is Katzman's fourth book in four years in his self-published series of Fighting Words books.

The work is an intriguing mixture of stories and poems, plus some scattered photos and a few sketches. The writings range from the tender, erotic title tale of how Katzman, as a painfully shy 17-year-old was seduced by an older woman, to his strong views on the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

His richly detailed stories put the reader in the center of the action, whether Katzman is delivering newspapers to an upscale restaurant for tips and steaks or snoozing at a Vladimir Horowitz concert.

The married father of four said he writes because "There's something inside you that has to get out. Once I started publishing books, it was like my brain was pregnant."

Poetic backlog

Although his first book was published only four years ago, Katzman has been writing poetry for 50 years. "I'm going to be publishing a book of poetry and essays soon," he reported. "It will be number seven or eight."

Katzman embarked on his book writing project following two brain surgeries: his 28th and 29th operations. "I decided that I'd better start writing because I'm going to lose my memory, and all these stories that I've got from my family going back 150 years would be lost," he said.

The author calls his series "Fighting Words" because "I believe in resistance to people who want to run your life, who think they can judge you by your appearance. 'Fighting Words' to me embodied the concept of self esteem, but it incorporates my family, my children."

Katzman decided to self-publish because "I don't want someone else to decide if I'm worth publishing. I self-publish the same way I built the shelves in my bookstore -- because I can."

Family therapist Gela Altman of Wilmette has read all four of Katzman's books. "He is very honest," Altman said of Katzman's writing. "He writes about himself exclusively and his story is very unusual. We all have experiences, but his experiences seem to be more unique. His memory is extraordinary and his writing keeps my attention."

Chicago realism school

Mike Hecht of Highland Park, a printing press technician who attends the same Highland Park synagogue as Katzman, is another fan. Hecht has also read all four books. "I think he is a terrific writer in the Chicago school of realism," Hecht said. "He lays it on the line. And he addresses important issues from the standpoint of a working stiff. Bob gives you the realities of life in the Chicago area."

Although there is an intriguing collection of stories in Hot Sex! And Small Change, the order in which they are arranged is a mystery. Katzman said his goal in the volume was to create a collection "diverse enough to hold the reader's interest."

Katzman reported that twice as many women as men buy his books. He has asked women what draws them to his writing. "Women like to know that a man is willing to admit to self doubt and fear and fallibility," he learned.

Katzman, who has sold 4,000 books to date, considers himself a full-time writer. "I've been in retail since I was 13 years old," the 58-year-old said. "I don't want to be identified by what I sell anymore. I'd rather sell my ideas."

For more information about Robert M. Katzman and to order his books, see


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