Fiction. Jewish Studies. Short Stories. Bilingual Edition. "To have reached at age 66, after years of considerable creative effort in English, the beginner's level in another language is in my view no small feat, something on the order of digging a hole so deep into New York granite that you come crawling back up in China, filthy but still breathing. If as an adult I stutter and stumble with the shaky spoon of my tongue back into the still fluid forecourt of consciousness that German constitutes for me, I do so in full consciousness as an English speaker reminded of other syllables that say more to me about the unspeakable than yes and no." So writes the New York-born author, son of Austrian-Jewish émigrés, in the foreword. "I harbor a stillborn scribe of the German tongue in me," he maintains. In this collection of stories, some quasi-autobiographical, some nightmarish, most of them originally written in German and thereafter translated, or rather, adapted by the author himself into English, Wortsman creates a compelling, albeit disturbing, portrait, not only of himself, but also of our shattered age. Despite all, with his writing, Wortsman harbors a hope: "Perhaps we Germans and Jews of the Post-War generation, as children of a shattered cultural union, can still achieve something productive together, perhaps we can pick a few rags of reason from the ruins of the past and therewith pitch a tent big enough to hold all our dreams."
Peter Wortsman is the author of works of fiction (A Modern Way to Die, Cold Earth Wanders, Footprints in Wet Cement, and Stimme und Atem/Out of Breath, Out of Mind); stage plays produced in the U.S. and Europe (Burning Words, The Tattooed Man Tells All); a travel-memoir, Ghost Dance in Berlin, for which he won an Independent Publishers Book Award; a book of physicians' profiles (The Caring Heirs of Doctor Samuel Bard); and an anthology, Tales of the German Imagination, which he compiled, translated and edited). He has also translated numerous texts from the German, including works by Peter Altenberg, Heinrich Heine, Franz Kafka, Heinrich von Kleist, Robert Musil and Mynona). Wortsman was a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2010.