(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
IMAGINE THAT you’ve been given complete freedom to write a column in an international news magazine about any subject you like. That was the luck, or the predicament, of The Jerusalem Report writer Haim Watzman, when he was asked by his editor to fill two pages once every four weeks with whatever he wanted. Watzman, an experienced journalist and translator, and the author of two works of nonfiction, one of which, “A Crack in the Earth: A Journey up Israel’s Rift Valley,” was a finalist for the Sammy Rohr Prize in 2008, first took up the challenge by writing personal essays and political satire, but soon found this unsatisfying. And in spite of his editor’s initial reluctance, he began to write fiction pieces instead. His collection, “Necessary Stories,” is a compilation of the best of these.“I realized that I didn’t want to just write about myself, or about real people and events,” Watzman explains in the introduction. “I wanted to make people up and imagine what they did.” Not every journalist has the artistry, not to mention the creativity, to make such a switch, but Watzman has stood up to the challenge admirably.