Escaping and Embracing the Cops of Chicago (2004)
by Gela Altman, LCSW
Bob Katzman is a late bloomer. It took him close to fifty years to realize his writing gift and it has only been in the last four years that he has evolved into a passionate and prolific writer of non-fiction. He concentrates on his own complex and often violent life, repeatedly leaving the reader pondering how an individual could survive so much pain and anguish and still turn out to be a caring and compassionate human being.
His narrative style has a clear and distinct speaking voice which he uses with great skill and precision. His intensity is portrayed in the episodes of abuse and violence dating back to an early age and spanning subsequent years of his life. One need only begin reading a chapter in one of his books to appreciate the deeper meaning that his powerful words convey. His are words of wisdom and intuition, of experience and solutions. His language is simple and frequently beautiful–almost poetic in its delivery.
There is genuineness and candor in his writings giving us an opportunity to become part of his world from the first page of one of his stories. We become so involved in fact that we begin to feel that areas of our lives are enhanced by experiencing what he experienced; by vicariously participating in his life events. We grow to be the protagonist of his own survival and the effect of such transformation can be truly monumental for those of us who feel less than adequate in our own lives. The sheer strength of character and conviction of Bob Katzman’s writings leave people, men and women, wanting more. Yearning for more ways to deal with controlling and overwhelming external forces that affect our lives the way his life has been affected, while addressing our own fears, our anger, and our own inability to cope.
In the end one is left with a glorious feeling of triumph over extraordinary circumstances that could have shattered a man who would not let it happen to him. A man who would not be destroyed.
Notes on Gela Altman, by Bob Katzman
Gela Altman is from a Polish-Jewish family that left Galicia-part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire-in 1923 and settled in Cuba a year later. She emigrated to the United States in 1961 at the age of fifteen. She speaks English, Spanish and Yiddish, but learned them in the opposite order. She knows me and my family very well and has read all three of my published books and other as yet unpublished stories. I asked her for her general opinion of the books as a whole, since they are very similar in content and voice. I asked her to be honest and told her that even if what she wrote was critical, I would still print it (but maybe in smaller type).
But in order to truly get a more complete sense of Gela (hay-la) Altman, a person has to know that she wears green shoes with dragonflys painted on them.
Her clothes are all color-coordinated, with various shades of the same general hue. To me, on the other hand, a serious fashion statement requires that I remember to wear socks with my shoes and hopefully, both of the same color. Standing next to Gela, I always feel like I represent the “Before” picture in some ad.
Having observed Gela, off and on, over the last decade or so, I don’t believe I have ever seen her wear the same shoes twice. One can only conclude that Gela has two houses. One for her family. And one for her shoes.
I should have such proiblems.
There’s also the scarf thing. For a warm and gentle family therapist, Gela is very exotic with the beautiful silk scarves seductively flowing from her neck to her shoulders. A slinky combination Femme-Fatale–Mata Hari kind of look. This is not to suggest she carries a bejeweled stiletto, however. Silly thought.
I’m guessing that perhaps her professional credo is:
“Take My Advice … or … Take Your Chances!”
I am honored that such a worldly person, the Catherine Denueve of Skokie, Illinois, would take time from her sophisticated shopping journeys which support the designers of Europe and elsewhere to write a wonderful forward about my simple, and unadorned stories.
Gosh!! All of a sudden I feel this overwhelming urge to go buy some kind of expensive designer clothing made only in Italy!!
I better lie down until the fever passes. Boy, that was a close one …