CategoryTwo-minute Reads

At Least I’m Almost a Genius

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I need to come up with one more word to be Genius level: overell, pevelon, renovel, lonovore? They should be words, but I know better. I’ve been working on the Spelling Bee in The New York Times Magazine since I picked up the paper from my driveway Sunday morning. I like games with simple rules: words at least five letters long that must include the middle letter. One point each word. Use all 7...

Side Effects

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I’d been warned to expect side effects from my second COVID-19 vaccine. Everyone I knew who’d gotten the second shot had felt punky with some combination of joint pain, low energy, headaches, fever, and nausea. I braced myself. Vaccine at noon on a Thursday. By bedtime I was congratulating myself for feeling great all day. Next morning: all good in the kingdom. I even agreed to meet a friend and...

“Private Life”

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I picked one off my Netflix queue last night: “Private Life.” Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) are a middle-aged couple struggling with infertility and desperate to have a child. Why so desperate, we’re not sure. They’ve tried everything as we quickly discover in a number of wry and painful scenes of crowded waiting rooms, specialist visits, drug injections, etc. Not...

Siblings Are My Blessing

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Every day is national something awareness day and I just found out today is Siblings Day. I’d have felt horrible if I hadn’t raised a glass (you know what I like) in love and gratitude. How lucky I am to have this crew on my side. Five of us separated by 6.5 years. What kind of insanity had hold of my parents? These bigger families, it’s a lot of lives to keep track of when...

Hemingway

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I don’t watch much television, but last night I turned on the set. Between checking out Aaron Rodgers hosting Jeopardy and waiting for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final, I tuned into the Ken Burns documentary, “Hemingway,” a 3-part series that is airing on PBS. I thought I’d watch for a few minutes and ended up staying for two mesmerizing hours, missing a good chunk of the basketball game. The...

Let Me Be Crystal Clear

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Georgia’s corporate giants have found themselves in turbulent waters tacking against the winds and political pressure surrounding Georgia’s freshly-minted law, “Election Integrity Act of 2021.” Prior to the law being passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, most big corporations didn’t have much to say. Two household-name...

Social Interactions on the Agenda Again

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The New York Times article, “Start Retraining for Social Interactions,” got off to a good start. The writer caught my attention early with “the prospect of readjusting to in-person social engagements may be a daunting one. For many, it provokes a sense of profound discomfort, apprehension or ambivalence.” I might have a touch of that. I’m accustomed to being at home, just Harriet and me, or...

7 Thoughts on Listicles

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1. A listicle is a short form of writing hugely popular on the web that uses a numbered list as its structure but contains enough copy to also be an article. I can’t tell you how many listicles I’ve written for clients over the years. Some have been substantial, but a lot of them I could have written with one hand. 2. Listicle is a portmanteau—a word made from combining two other words, in this...

The Secrets Bookshelves Hold

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One thing I’ve missed during the pandemic is going into other people’s houses and examining their bookshelves. If I enter someone’s house and I don’t see any bookshelves or if the only bookshelves I see are decorated with objects d’art and not lined with books, I get tense, as if I were entering a dangerous dark alley. I begin to question just who is this stranger whose house I’ve entered...

KLARA AND THE SUN, Kazuo Ishiguro

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I remember talking many years ago to my dear, departed friend Patrick about a Kazuo Ishiguro novel. He said, “You start reading and you think there’s no way he can pull this off. And you keep going and you’re still thinking no way. And then you get to the end and you’re astounded because he did pull it off.” What does Ishiguro pull off, in novel after novel? Almost invariably through the device...

Weather Report

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If I hadn’t ended up a writer, I could have been a weatherman. Better yet a weatherperson. Although the profession never did make the list of my brilliant career. What appeals to me is the careful blending of weather data, facts, and analysis with the creative presentation of the weather report. What to leave in and out. How to make the dull day interesting, the horrific day not so apocalyptic...

Ask Dave: Vol. 8, Number 11

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Sometimes I post letters here that I’ve received at my other website, the advice column, Dear Dave. Recently I shared one about a fellow who almost set himself on fire. I got a huge number of emails saying I had missed the point of the letter. Maybe I’ll do better this time with a letter I received yesterday. Dear Dave: I’m an important and powerful person and have many people working for me...

ZONE ONE — Colson Whitehead

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Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for each of his last two novels (The Nickel Boys, The Underground Railroad), an unprecedented literary achievement. Ten years ago, before either of those novels were published, Whitehead blended literary and genre writing and came out with his zombie apocalypse novel, Zone One. I’ve long been a reader of literary fiction although have never been a reader of...

Writing Advice: 5 Cents

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I had a strange email recently from a woman I did not know. I usually delete emails from strangers without even opening them. But this person was clever in getting my attention by appealing to my vanity. She wrote a compelling subject line. “I liked your novel Clean Break.” Of course I opened the email. I could use a little stroking. Who couldn’t? But that wasn’t the purpose of her...

We Need More Mental Health Support

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There’s a good chance the person you love, or just happen to be talking to, is not feeling super well. Along with exacerbating a lot of other awful things, COVID-19 has coincided with a steep rise in mental health disorders. Forty-one percent of adults have reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder over the past year. Only 11 percent had reported those symptoms before the pandemic...

David Klein

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

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