Necessary Stories (Hardcover)
West 26th Street Press, 9781630640569, 174pp.
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Twenty-four stories of Israeli and Jewish life, chosen from the more than one hundred Haim Watzman has written over the last nine years in his "Necessary Stories" column in the The Jerusalem Report. Bookended by a flashback to his first weekend in Israel forty years ago and a storytelling encounter on a recent flight back home from the US, these stories--funny, meditative, and sad, set in immigrant camps, the army, and the author's own neighborhood in south Jerusalem--uniquely capture what it is like, in our age, to be an Israeli and a Jew.
Praise for Haim Watzman:
"His stories detail the lives of ordinary Israelis, often touching on current events ... The dialogue, though written in English, has the distinct feeling of Hebrew speech -- that unmistakable combination of impatience and warmth."
--Naomi Zeveloff, Forward
"Watzman knows that every encounter, no matter how fleeting--a conversation in a cemetery with a long-dead Talmudic sage; Felix Mendelssohn's great aunt scolding the young prodigy; four Jews on a plane discussing the Bible, the Zohar and Wuthering Heights--is a matter of life and death. Necessary Stories is a quietly beautiful work, haunting in places, gently funny in others, written by a graceful, thoughtful, eloquent man who understands that life itself is not enough. One must live to tell the tale."
--From the Introduction by Joseph Skibell
"Author Haim Watzman is a master of the tiny moment, the exact point in time that leaves an impression on the future ... If you enjoy short stories, 'Necessary Stories' is a fine collection, filled with hints and hidden meanings. It's a perfect choice for a Jewish book club whose members can discuss these stories for hours."
--Rivkah Lambert Adler, Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2017
"Watzman writes with immediacy, attentiveness and empathy, whether he's describing a pregnant feral cat he names Hagar, who makes her home in the dumpster of his Jerusalem building, or the best friend of the bride at a wedding, or his late son, who was killed in a tragic accident while serving in the IDF. Watzman ... has a good ear for dialogue. The stories, layered with meaning, speak to his wide-ranging interests."
--Sandee Brawarsky, The Jewish Week/Times of Israel
"All but one of these stories are relatively short ... Yet anyone who sits down with this collection will come away with a sense of something much larger--a multifaceted impression of what it's like to make a life in a place where the prosaic mixes with the fantastic; history, politics, and philosophy are around every corner, and each encounter with a stranger holds the potential to show you the world from a fresh angle."
--Janice Weizman, The Jerusalem Report