"A remarkable assemblage of warm and original stories, rich in historical texture and humorous observations."—Newsday
The lasting charm of Kaufman’s stories lies in a delightful mix of personal incidents and observations set against an anchoring backdrop of cultural tradition. His new collection is filled with tales from his parents’ homeland in the Ukraine, his own childhood reminiscences, and his adult travels.
We watch the young author forced alongside “every Jewish boy on the block” to emulate Yehudi Menuhin on a ten-dollar violin with a moldy bow until the boy is spared by an innate lack of talent and his father’s judgment of his concert: “Enough is enough is more than enough.” Kaufman is carefully attuned to the awkwardness of adulthood as well as to that of early adolescence. In “Interlude in Bangkok,” his narrator scours the city for a synagogue while pursued by a prostitute. Later he and a friend encounter Greta Garbo in a museum café and are too frightened to approach her. Aware of their intrigue, the mysterious movie star intones, “I am not she”; Kaufman, in his own way, says that of himself in these stories through an autobiographical narrator whose memories take on resonant, literary shapes in their retelling.
William D. Kaufman’s first collection of short stories, The Day My Mother Changed Her Name, was published by Syracuse University Press in 2008. His stories have also appeared in Forward, Moment, and Columbia Magazine. Kaufman was a professional fund-raiser at the Jewish Theological Seminary until his retirement.