Chicago writer Robert M. Katzman

Robert M. Katzman is a deeply human soul. He’s run the famous Bob’s Newsstand chain, Chicago-area bookstores, and a kosher deli. He’s experienced child abuse, cancer, bankruptcy, 39 operations, and profound loss. He’s won legal battles and the love of a wonderful wife …

Read an excerpt from 'A Savage Heart'

Then, suddenly I saw her from the corner of my eye, sitting all alone, very erect, very crisp and clean in her pastel dress with neat little white gloves on, and her white-blond hair with its thin braids wrapped tightly around her head, like the young farm girl from the movie “Heidi”.

It was Katherine Evans.

The dance was two hours old, nearly over, and not one boy had asked her to dance. But she just sat there, bravely, waiting, waiting, and showing no emotion, like a pale, sad statue in a park.

I thought to myself, this is no good at all.

For her to end eight or nine years at this damn school completely ignored? I wouldn’t stand for it.

Filled with bravado, I somehow gathered up the courage to approach the unapproachable girl. I walked right up to her, in my ridiculous inside-out cranberry jacket with its satiny purple and white stripes shiny in the afternoon sunlight, and stopped in front of her.

“Katherine, I asked, “Would you like to dance with me?”

She slowly looked up, like I’d broken her trance, like I’d startled her, opened her blue eyes and looked into mine. She nodded, wordlessly, and rose, offering me her white-gloved hand. Very formal. Very reserved.

I held her hand in mine and led her over to where people were dancing, and put my other arm very gently around her waist, like she was porcelain, like she could break.

It was a slow dance and we began to move, slowly, smoothly, dancing around and around, moving across the dance floor to the soft old tune.

I held her waist a little closer and her hand a little tighter as the music played on and then Katherine smiled at me, put her head on my shoulder and leaned on me just a bit, this girl I never knew, and we danced some more, but slower.

I felt very warm, very protective, very good. I could feel that girl’s smile all over me, like a glow.

Some other kids stopped dancing and began to watch us:
Two strange birds holding on to each other in that big old gym. We danced one more slow dance, and I led her back to her seat, as the party was ending. I held her hand as we walked, and then held it as she seated herself, very properly, like something from fifty years before.

(Excerpted from A Savage Heart, by Robert M. Katzman)

“The sheer strength of character and conviction of Bob Katzman’s writings leave people, men and women, wanting more.”

Gela Altman

“Nelson Algren once defined the job of the writer: ‘To put the reader in the room.’ Bob Katzman’s Fighting Words! will unforgettably … put you in the room.”

Mike Hecht

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