AuthorDavid Klein

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

July 4th: Happy Birthday You Hot Mess

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Fourth of July 2020. I looked up and down the street. Many houses were flying their flags. I was conflicted. I put mine out. I managed to fly it for an hour or so until I became uncomfortable and took it down. Here I am getting triggered by my country’s flag. I’ve allowed to happen what I’ve railed against: the flag being a symbol of Republicans and the shithead in the white...

THE HOURS, Michael Cunningham

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In my first graduate fiction writing workshop, I submitted a story called “Landscaping.” It was about a woman who lives largely inside her head and her stream-of-conscious voice narrates the day that a landscaper comes to her house to plant a garden. The professor asked the class, “Who’s writing does this remind you of?” Immediately someone responded, Virginia Woolf. I said, “Who’s she?” I was...

The Most Important Novels in My Life

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I have set myself a task for 2020: reread the ten most important books in my life. To qualify for the list, the novel (or novella or short story collections; I’m including those also), must meet one or more of the following criteria: It was so profound and meaningful to me that I’ve read the novel multiple times.It significantly influenced my own development as a novelist.The...

I Feel Bad About Restaurants

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To go out to dinner as a child was a rare and special occasion for my family, even when we went to the ubiquitous Your Host, a chain of 31 mediocre family restaurants in the Buffalo area. Fish fries and toast points. Yum! As we got older, into our teen years, my parents would take us out to dinner to a nice restaurant once a year, so we could get a little culture and practice our manners. These...

Latest Novel Now With Agent

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I’ve submitted my latest novel, THE SUITOR, to my agent, after we’d gone back and forth on some edits. The story centers on three characters: recent college-grad and law-school-bound Anna; the ambitious and scheming Kyle, who loves her; and Anna’s father, Art, who doesn’t like the idea of Anna and Kyle together. Read the first chapter. I’ve got another shot with this...

The Wind Chimes Were Quiet, and Still I Savored Them

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Certain words are becoming important to me. One of them is savor. I wrote about savoring the experience of shaving. Today I took time to savor the wind chimes around our house. We have many. Right now it’s ninety-five miserable degrees outside, the air is silent, nothing stirs the chimes. But when savor calls, you listen. Our newest wind chime. This bronze beauty was a father’s day...

Where are All the Monarchs?

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Last year at this time we were seeing butterflies all over our property. We had monarchs and swallowtails, more than we’ve had in years. Harriet gave away forty monarch eggs she found on our milkweed plants, and she raised and released at least a half dozen monarchs of her own. She has fostered a network of butterfly-raising enthusiasts. They have a Slack channel. This year: nothing. I...

THE PLAGUE, Albert Camus

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No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and the emotions shared by all. I probably would not have chosen to read “the Plague” if we were not in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic and had I not found the novel on a bookshelf. But it seemed an appropriate read, tucked between my rereading of the most important novels in my life. I had just...

More on My Experience with Race and Racism

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Yesterday we attended the protest rally and march in Troy. It was an incredible scene: thousands of protesters, peaceful marching, incessant chanting, almost everyone wearing a mask. I was proud to attend. I recently wrote about my earliest memories of race and racism. Here’s what I remember after that, from my years growing up in Buffalo: In sixth grade I joined the St. Mark Lions 90-pound...

THE SUITOR Has My Attention

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I’ve posted less these last few weeks because my attention is occupied elsewhere. One focus of attention has been finishing my novel, THE SUITOR. I’ve gone back and forth with my agent on some potential changes that might clarify, crystallize, and strengthen the story. I’ve spent hours each day writing and rewriting, trying to solve those nagging problems of narrative and...

Racism: A Personal Introduction

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BUFFALO, NY, 1960s. I’m seven or eight years old, the fourth of five children in my family, three girls, two boys. We live on a busy street in a wood-structure, single-family house in a white neighborhood. At the end of the block is the Catholic elementary school I attend. I have no black classmates. I don’t know any black people. Next door to us is a two-family. The Millers move in on the second...

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, John Irving

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During the period of COVID-19, I’ve been re-reading novels from a list of twenty-five of The Most Important Novels in My Life. Next up: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP. Published in 1978, when I was in college, the first time I attempted to read Garp I put it down. A few years later I started reading it again, and this time I couldn’t put it down. What changed? Sometimes you’re just...

Today I Flew the Flag, Not Upside Down

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Julia asked if I was putting the flag out today. I realized I should. I flew it for one reason only: It’s Memorial Day and I wanted to honor those who died while serving in the U.S. military. They deserve this honor. Otherwise, I haven’t been flying the flag. The last time I did, in 2016, I flew the flag upside down as a call of distress. I got some pushback over that. I’ve been...

Memorial Day 2020

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May 24, 2020. Memorial Day Weekend. This is the front page of the New York Times today: 100,000 thousand dead so far in the United States from COVID-19. So far. The sub-head to the story states, “They Were Not Simply Names on a List. They Were Us.” There will be more deaths. Probably many thousands more. Compare this number to the number of U.S. deaths in war. Almost twice as many...

My First Novel Was a Disaster

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I’m on page 38 of 327 pages of a novel I’m reading and I want to put it down. I’m uncomfortable reading. Anxiety is building in me. Anguish weighs me down. Even shame. And yet — I also experience a sense of wonder. The novel is called THE PETTING ZOO, and it’s the first novel I wrote, 30 years ago. I came across the manuscript — wasn’t sure I still had it...

David Klein

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

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