A Memoir

Mort Zachter


"What if, after a life of struggle, you found out you were about to inherit several million dollars? Run to the Mercedes dealer? Call your travel agent? Call Paine Webber? Mort Zachter did none of the above. Mort turned first into an investigator, trying to unlock the mystery of how his modest, bread-selling family amassed a secret fortune. And then Mort turned into a writer, putting down the tale in this delightful and elegant book. Read it. It will make you smile and see that sometimes good things happen to good people."
—Ari L. Goldman, author of Living a Year of Kaddish

"Dough is rising! More than just a story about bread or money, it's a beautifully written family memoir—with an astonishing twist!—that brings to life a vanished Lower East Side and the people who walked its streets. Mort Zachter's keen eye and humor will keep you reading way past your bedtime."
—Hettie Jones, author of All Told

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Mort Zachter’s childhood revolved around a small shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side known in the neighborhood as “the day-old bread store.” It was a bakery where nothing was baked, owned by his two eccentric uncles who referred to their goods as “the merchandise.” Zachter grew up sleeping in the dinette of a leaking Brooklyn tenement. He lived a classic immigrant story--one of a close-knit, working-class family struggling to make it in America. Only they were rich.

In Dough, Zachter chronicles the life-altering discovery made at age thirty-six that he was heir to several million dollars his bachelor uncles had secretly amassed in stocks and bonds. Although initially elated, Zachter battled bitter memories of the long hours his mother worked at the bakery for no pay. And how could his own parents have kept the secret from him while he was a young married man, working his way through night school? As he cleans out his uncles’ apartment, Zachter discovers clues about their personal lives that raise more questions than they answer. He also finds cake boxes packed with rolls of two-dollar bills and mattresses stuffed with coins.

In prose that is often funny and at times elegiac, Zachter struggles with the legacy of his enigmatic family and the implications of his new-found wealth. Breaking with his family’s workaholic heritage, Zachter abandons his pragmatic accounting career to pursue his lifelong dream of being a writer. And though he may not understand his family, in the end he realizes that forgiveness and acceptance matter most.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction

Page count: 192 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $29.95

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Mort Zachter is currently working on a book about baseball legend Gil Hodges. His writing has appeared in Fourth Genre, Moment, Weatherwise, and Poetica. His memoiristic essay, "The Boy Who Didn't Like Money," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Before he became a full-time writer, Zachter had careers in law and accounting. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.