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Finding me and Them: Stories of Assimilation is a collection of ten stories. They are autobiographical. They are nonfiction. They are fiction based on fact. Each story tells the author’s life as an individual with or (fictional) without a disability. All of them find the author. They show different phases and challenges in his life, from rehabilitating from a head injury at age five to learning the logistics of an after-life. In ways that co-mingle genres, the stories in my book are related. There are central themes concurrent in all of them. Many of the stories are written from the perspective of someone growing up with an ambiguous disability. By about 1981, I walked with a staggered gait, but without crutches. I did not wear a brace; I had no “props” to indicate I was just physically disabled. A theme is how I found the world to perceive me. Family is a theme. Wandering, exploration, the search for identity, are central themes in my stories.
My book is learning to live (physically different). It's learning to accept yourself the way you are, the way others see you or the way you suspect others are seeing you. It's learning what faith can do and what's offered in worlds we can't see.
In Finding me and Them, Michael Amram shows his versatility as a writer, combining stories of fact and fiction, often with poetic lyricism, to tell the story of his life, a life he says is influenced by the disabilities caused when a distracted teen driver hit the then 5-year-old boy.
In reality, it’s a life that reflects Amram’s abilities — his ability to see joy and sorrow in life, his ability to observe the ironies of life, his ability to appreciate that “overcoming” takes many forms.
I have read the stories in Amram’s collection as they developed over time. With each iteration, his writing has become crisper, producing a highly readable and cohesive compilation that is deserving of a wide audience.
Amram blends humor and poignancy to engage readers as he portrays life’s simplest interactions as meaningful. Never preachy, each of the 10 stories in this collection teaches us something about living the fullest life we can.
Michael P. Amram grew up in Richfield, a suburb of Minneapolis, during the 1970s. Much of his writing has political themes and are set in the era he remembers well. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1989, he began writing short stories influenced by the urban Minneapolis area in which he lived.
Amram's writing has been published in various online magazines including The Evergreen Review and Wordgathering as well as the paper magazine Abilites. In 2013 he published his novel The Orthodoxy of Arrogance, and the following year Agent of Orange. Each historical fiction novel is set in the 1970s. The second deals with various political issues of the time. In 2017 he published a collection of stories, Finding me—and Them: Stories of Assimilation.
Amram's writing was selected as a finalist when he applied for the 2011-12 Mentor Series program at the Loft Literary Center. He has taken classes there, belongs to a writer's group and, in 2015 read his poetry at the Loft's dedication as an International Peace Site. He lives with his wife just outside of Minneapolis. His writing and books can be found at http://paulamram.blogspot.com.
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