CategoryTwo-minute Reads

Gearing Up for the Solo Road Trip

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What’s more compelling and creatively inspiring than a road trip? How many novels and films have the road trip spawned? From Jack Kerouac’s counterculture buddy trip “On The Road” to Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic, Pulitzer Prize-winner, “The Road,” to . . . National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movies, and a movie I highly recommend, “Almost Famous.” I’m heading out this week on a solo road trip...

The Bills Have Me Riding the Roller Coaster Again

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Owen’s lot in life is to have a father born and raised in Buffalo, NY, and therefore Owen was also fated to be a Bills and Sabres fan, which I admit I carry some guilt over. The Sabres have never won a Stanley Cup in more than 50 years of playing. I was in the stands with my father and brother when they lost in the finals to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975. The Bills are best known for losing...

Are New Year’s Resolutions Helpful?

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I like to ask people what their New Year’s resolutions are. It seems like an effective way to start an interesting and meaningful conversation. Or start a fight. Because, come on: New Year’s resolutions? Didn’t we suffer enough in 2020 to now put ourselves through the self-defeating promises made/promises broken routine for 2021? But we all want to be better, do better, and feel better, so we...

So You Want to Be a Ghost Writer

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I was talking with a friend the other day about being a ghost writer. It’s such a great term: ghost writer. Haunting and secretive, because a ghost writer is the invisible spirit and voice behind a piece of writing that carries another person’s name as the author. But the task of ghostwriting is anything but secretive. It’s deeply intimate. I’ve served as a ghost writer for university...

“I Did the Best I Could With What I Had.”

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Toward the end of his writing career, Philip Roth said in an interview, “I did the best I could with what I had.” I’ve glommed onto that saying, hoping to make it my own. Roth has won almost every major literary award. He’s written thirty books including some of my favorite novels, each one rich with the conundrum of human experience and packed with personal revelations for me: American Pastoral...

Attic Drinking: Go Ahead, Judge Me!

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One of the best, or perhaps only, things I like about Facebook is having been in touch with a few friends from my long-ago past, people I will likely never again see in my lifetime. Recently my old friend Russ sent me a video from many years ago. I think I was fourteen or fifteen at the time this home movie—“Attic Drinking”—was shot. When I first watched the video I laughed heartily and I loved...

Pandemic Puzzling

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With the pandemic raging and many people staying home when possible, jigsaw puzzles have become a popular pastime. There’s even been a shortage of them. I’ve been doing jigsaw puzzles for years, with both trepidation and determination. Do jigsaw newbies really know what they’re in for? The Hero’s Journey Whenever I work on a puzzle, especially those 1,000-piecers, it’s like I’m undergoing the...

THE VANISHING HALF, Brit Bennett

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THE VANISHING HALF appeared on a number of top 10 books of the year lists and it’s easy to see why. The novel has all the ingredients for a successful novel in 2020: Racial themes explored in the story of light-skinned Black twin sisters—Stella and Desiree—whose lives diverge when one decides to live as white and the other “stays” Black; a secondary, transgender theme and subplot; an up-and...

Push Yourself Up!

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To be on the team, you have to perform twenty pushups. There’s no getting around that requirement because if you can’t do twenty pushups you won’t have the strength to help the team. You’d be a burden on your teammates. You’d be unwanted. So twenty pushups it is, no exceptions. Plus eight pullups, running a mile in seven minutes or less, and scoring at least eighteen out of twenty on the team...

Savoring the Winter Hike

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I have a new quest: hike all 35 Catskill Mountain peaks over 3500 feet in elevation. I’ve got one down, 34 to go. Today I hiked Westkill Mountain, joining an organized small group because this was my first mountain hiking in winter conditions. It was wet on the lower elevations, snowy with some ice up higher. The sun wasn’t out . . .but the view still inspired. Hiking is one of those...

I’ve Been Writing This Novel Seemingly Forever

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FLIGHT RISK: After surviving a plane crash but wandering off into a trauma-induced fugue state, a previously reliable husband, father, and successful businessman attempts to put his life back together while enduring the stigma of his psychological collapse.    It’s unsettling to be working on a novel I thought I’d finished writing several years ago. It was called A SERIOUS LAPSE back then. My...

A New Game I Want to Play

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It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I need to get moving so I head out on my bike because my legs are too tired and toes too achy for running today. I ride as far as the town park and pass by the tennis courts where I play during the summer. The courts are full of pickleball players. I stop and watch. I’ve never played, but I pick up most of the tactics and rules watching the four players on the...

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND — Rumaan Alam

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I eagerly awaited my opportunity to read LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND, by Rumaan Alam, a novel that has received a lot of attention and hype this season. I have mixed feelings. First, what I really liked. Some of the writing is stellar, the novel moves briskly along, and it clocks in at a trim, bloat-free 241 pages. The premise itself is powerful and promising: a white Brooklyn family heads out to the...

A PALE VIEW OF THE HILLS–Kazuo Ishiguro

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Delicate, elegiac, mysterious, haunting. If those words describe the kind of novel you like, A PALE VIEW OF THE HILLS is for you. It’s on my list of The Most Important Novels in My Life, which I’ve been revisiting during the coronavirus pandemic, and a recent rereading of Ishiguro’s first novel reminds me that it belongs. I first came to this novel in 1993, while I was working on a...

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...

David Klein

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

Novels

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