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Julia and I had a conversation about solitude. I was telling her I went bow hunting over the weekend, and although I was with friends, I spent many hours alone in a tree stand, apart from the others. She wondered if that was difficult for me—all that solitude. She says she can struggle in those moments because her thoughts can turn negative and get the better of her. I’m with her on that one: the...

Fly Your Flag


Most of my interest in flags has concerned the U.S. flag. I’ve flown it upside down and right-side-up, and after the election I’ll be flying it one way or the other depending on the results. The U.S. flag is such a powerful symbol, but I don’t “Pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God...

CULTS: The Girls, a novel, and Martha Marcy May Marlene, a film


Sometimes I do a two-for-one, packaging a thematically-linked novel and film review, such as the novel The Revenant and the film 1917. Today’s theme is cults, which I’ve become interested in recently, although I have no interest in joining or starting one. The two works of art: The Girls, by Emma Cline (2016), and Martha Marcy May Marlene, written and directed by Sean Durkin (2011). Apparently...

No Satisfaction–Yet


I was out inspecting the perimeter yesterday and I saw a flash of red in the bushes. I pulled out this sign that someone must have tossed here. They probably stole it from another lawn and flung it here, hopefully in disgust, but I wish they hadn’t tainted my property. It landed not far from my Black Lives Matter sign. The Trump sign was high quality: heavy plastic and sturdy wire frame. It...

Six-Word Memoirs


There is a legend about Ernest Hemingway responding to a challenge to write a six-word story with this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” That’s about as devastating and definitive as a story can be–whatever its length. And it has inspired many writers to construct six-word stories and memoirs. Here’s another one, unlikely written as a six-word memoir, but...

Chained to the Power Grid


The power went out at 4 pm on October 7 when a fierce 10-minute wind and rain storm blitzed the area. Trees were down all over town. Not in my yard, but in the one next door. The power lines dangled on the ground. Electricity was scarce, but firewood aplenty. Thus began 77 hours of living off the grid. We lit our candles and wore our headlamps because night came early. We emptied our chest...

It Hurts Getting Punched in the Mouth


I’m not a boxing fan, I’m not even a Mike Tyson fan, but I’m a big fan of this quote attributed to the fearsome warrior: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” There are a number of military variations on this quote, such as “Plans are great until the shooting starts” or “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”...

Playing in the Neighborhood


I looked out my window the other day and saw this going on in my front yard. I had kept one of the swings from the playset we had in our back yard when my own kids were young and I hung it out front from a maple tree. Every once in a while someone will come by and take a ride, usually a mom with her toddler. I watched these two girls take turns pushing each other. Swinging as if they owned it...

A Swim with My Dad


He died on this day October 5, 2014. Not in the way he or anyone would want to: suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, alone, in the middle of the night, in a nursing home. Spare me such a fate. I wrote the piece below a while back when I was thinking of him and wished he could have died another way. And I posted this brighter piece on his birthday last year. Here’s to you, Bob Klein . ...

Is No News Good News?


It’s been two weeks since Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. That day, September 18, was a turning point for me. I was so fond of RBG. She represented my moral compass. She represented everything I wanted our country to embrace. I was crushed. Grieving. Near a state of panic. I had to turn off the news after I heard of her death. I blocked notifications from the New York Times. I stayed away from all the...

Can a Hand-Written Note Make a Difference?


Living in the cerulean state of New York, I’m looking for ways to contribute to the upcoming election. Other than voting. I signed up with an organization to hand-write 400 postcards to registered Democratic voters in swing states, encouraging them to vote on Nov. 3. I was assigned Texas—The Lone Star State—and sent a supply of postcards. I was also provided with what reads like a data-driven and...

A FAREWELL TO ARMS: Ernest Hemingway


I first read A FAREWELL TO ARMS many years ago when I was going through what the narrator, Frederic Henry, is going through in the novel: not the part about the war on the Italian front, but the experience of great love. This personal experience of love surely colored my impressions of the novel, yet its standing as one of the Most Important Novels in My Life remains assured. If you can...

Ruth, You Were A Rock Star


I’m crushed over Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death. Not just mourning for her and the incredible work she’s done for all Americans and for women especially as an attorney and then a Supreme Court justice. But I’m also consumed with anxiety because of the Supreme Court vacancy her death creates just a few weeks before the election, with two-faced, lying, duplicitous republican senators saying they will...

It Takes a Thief


At an angle across the road from my home is a two-family rental house and a freestanding workshop owned by a local homebuilding company. The view from my window is not an eyesore but neither is the property a delight. The building company uses the shop to fabricate custom work and to store materials. The rear of the shop faces a waterline buried under a packed dirt walking path. Between the path...

The Delight of Youth


Somehow, this is a photo of me, and not of my son.

It wasn’t taken when I was eight years old but just the other day using one of those crazy filters on Snapchat.

That’s one delighted kid in this photo. It’s a joyful version of who I wish I’d been as a child.

Now instead of a special effect, I need to discover the real effect, and somehow look like this in my current life (except 50 years older).

Sweet Home Alabama?


I’ve always had a negative perception of the southern states. I never much cared for Florida on my visits there. I have a low tolerance for heat and humidity. And then there’s that whole legacy of slavery. But I just made my first trip to Birmingham, Alabama. In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, I chose to visit a southern state where COVID cases are spiking. Why would I do such a thing...

Describe Your Novel in Two Sentences


So asked my agent, as she prepares to pitch THIS GAME WE PLAY to publishers. You must have that quick hook. Everyone is so busy. Everyone wants you to get to the point and wow them. First pass: A recent college graduate falls for a charming schemer. Her father becomes obsessed with preventing the marriage. And I added this, for a longer description: After an emotionally challenging year, Anna is...

Today I Dug a Grave


In the back garden, behind the evergreens, past the vinca, I found a peaceful spot near the cedar fence. I shoveled out dirt and cut through roots and dug down as far as I could reach. It’s there I buried Storm. His name is actually Thunder Lightning Rainstorm, named 16 years ago by two very young kids who grew up with this fine member of our family. Storm was a lap cat. Sometimes you could...

Tim O’Brien and Facing the “Moral Emergency”


During the pandemic, I’ve compiled a list of the “The Most Important Novels in My Life,” then started re-reading to see if they maintained their esteem over time. Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” made my list for its haunting narrative of the author’s Vietnam experience and its structure as a series of connected stories. The piece I remember the most, and still cuts me every time I read...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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