David Michael Kaplan


Entry Updated : 10/27/2004
Birth Place:  New York, NY

Personal Information
Further Readings About the Author

Personal Information: Family: Born April 4, 1946, in New York, NY; son of Sidney and Minnie Marie (Henson) Kaplan; married Elizabeth Hope Crighton, August 16, 1976 (divorced); married Joyce Winer, July, 1988. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1967; University of Iowa, M.F.A., 1987. Addresses: Office: Department of English, Crown Center for the Humanities, Loyola University of Chicago, 6525 North Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60626.

Career: North Carolina Advancement School, Winston-Salem, English instructor, 1965-66; Learning Institute, Durham, NC, curriculum construction, 1968-71; Shadowstone Films, Durham, NC, creative director, 1971-76; National TV News, Los Angeles, CA, production director, 1976-84; Loyola University of Chicago, IL, assistant professor, then associate professor of English, 1987--.

Awards: "Doe Season" was selected as one of the Best American Short Stories of 1985; Nelson Algren Award for short fiction, 1999, for "Bamboo."


  • Comfort (short stories), Viking (New York), 1987.
  • Skating in the Dark (novel), Pantheon Books (New York), 1991.
  • Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction, Story Press (Cincinnati, OH), 1997.

Published sound recording Laura Furman, James D. Houston and David Michael Kaplan, Authors of Three of the "Ten Best" Short Stories in the PEN Syndicated Fiction Project, Read Their Stories, 1990. Contributor to periodicals, including Shankpainter, Atlantic, Wooster Review, Ohio Review, Redbook, Yellow Silk, Playboy, Mirabella, Mississippi Review, New Mexico Humanities Review, and Newsday. Short stories have appeared in anthologies, including Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, 1999, Prize Stories 1990: The O. Henry Awards, and Best American Short Stories 1986.


David Michael Kaplan is an associate professor of English at Loyola University of Chicago. He has written award-winning short stories, as well as a novel and a nonfiction work on how to improve your writing. He received his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa and began his writing career part time while working in Los Angeles.

In his collection of short stories entitled Comfort, Kaplan focuses on the central theme of parent-child relationships. Most of the pieces describe children who have become emotionally or physically estranged from a parent and their search for reconciliation. Many of the stories involve surreal or supernatural content, suggesting an influence by magic realists. "In addition to the human relationships and the unbridgeable distances they seem to encompass," wrote Sarah Gold in Village Voice, "Kaplan infuses his stories with another reality; apparitions and magic, a demon and a witch, mystical events that seem like dreams but may not be."

The book begins with the showpiece entitled "Doe Season," which was selected as one of the Best American Short Stories of 1985. A pre-teen tomboy named Andy accepts an invitation to accompany her father on a hunting trip. She wants desperately to prove she is a worthy companion even though she is a girl. However, after reluctantly killing a doe, she runs from the horrible display of the gutted deer butchered by her father and his friends. Later that night, the doe revisits Andy in her dreams displaying the wound that the girl had inflicted upon her. These experiences cause Andy to reexamine her feelings about being a girl.

"In the Realm of the Herons" is another story of a father and his daughter. After the unexpected death of the mother, the grieving father and daughter take a vacation to the lake. Instead of a restorative stay at a summer cabin, the father is tormented by his daughter's refusal to accept her mother's death. While out rowing alone, the father happens upon an old house and begins to fantasize about living there with his daughter. When he insists upon her seeing the house, the daughter finds a dead heron nailed to the wall, causing the pain and suffering of death to rise to the forefront of the daughter's mind.

Many of Kaplan's stories concern children dealing with the loss of their mothers. In "Love, Your Only Mother," a daughter occasionally receives a postcard in the mail from her mother, who left years ago. The messages are bizarre, containing words that taunt and tease her daughter. Each card is from a different place, never revealing where her mother is, but only where she had been. New York Times Book Review contributor Susan Wood wrote that Kaplan "is at his best suggesting how such moments may alter, for better or worse, our relationships with those to whom we are most deeply bound--children, parents, lovers--in love and guilt."

Kaplan looks at a father's relationship with his son in "Summer People." Frank is an estranged son trying to escape his father's expectations. Father and son are forced to reunite to close up an old summer home for the last time. Once together, long-standing conflicts and resentments surface. However, even with a near drowning, resolutions are not offered. Mary Soete for Library Journal summed up Comfort: "This is writing of powerful insight and beauty, a talented first collection."

Skating in the Dark (1991) is a series of linked short stories about a man named Frank. The stories relate various stages in his life, from the age of seven to his forties. Diane Goheen of School Library Journal found the stories' various themes "bittersweet," but the collection "thoroughly entertaining." A critic for Publishers Weekly wrote that the "elegant novel . . . yields a particular richness of themes and variations." Kaplan "evokes the sadness and longing of growing up and thinking back."



  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 50: Yearbook 1987, Gale, 1988.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991, Gale, 1992.


  • Booklist, January 15, 1987, p. 751.
  • Chicago, September, 1987, Laurie Levy, review of Comfort, p. 92; January, 1992, Marcia Froelke Coburn, review of Skating in the Dark, p. 57.
  • Fantasy Review, July-August, 1987, p. 50.
  • Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1986, p. 1749.
  • Library Journal, January, 1987, Mary Soete, review of Comfort, pp. 107-108.
  • New York Times Book Review, June 14, 1987, Susan Wood, review of Comfort, p. 41.
  • Publishers Weekly, December 26, 1986, Sybil Steinberg, review of Comfort, p. 47; August 2, 1991, review of Skating in the Dark, p. 62.
  • School Library Journal, March, 1992, Diane Goheen, review of Skating in the Dark, p. 267.
  • Village Voice, June 2, 1987, p. 50.*

Source:  Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2004.

Source Database:  Contemporary Authors

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