CategoryTwo-minute Reads

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

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I love the opportunity to read a novel and see the film adaptation in a back to back sequence. This was the case with The Queen’s Gambit, which I thank Owen for bringing to my attention. This novel, written in 1983 by Walter Tevis (The Hustler, The Man Who Fell to Earth), centers around Beth Harmon, a young female chess prodigy who is orphaned, discovers her talent at chess by playing the janitor...

Cheapskate, Environmentalist, or Minimalist?

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I’ve developed an aversion to shopping, both online and in person. Because when you shop, you buy things, and I don’t want more things. I want fewer things. I want to get rid of stuff, not accumulate more. Maybe I’m getting obsessive about it. Last year, I wondered if I actually owned enough clothing to see me through my remaining projected lifespan. Turns out, I don’t. You know those technical T...

Solitude

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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

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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...

Chained to the Power Grid

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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...

Is No News Good News?

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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?

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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

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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...

Sweet Home Alabama?

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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

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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...

Tim O’Brien and Facing the “Moral Emergency”

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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...

I Have! A Punctuation! Problem!!!

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I came up as a writer in the days when the exclamation point was a judiciously, seldom-used punctuation mark. It was to be placed at the end of a sentence in only extreme cases, as a shout of intensity or alarm when words alone cannot convey such powerful feelings. Writers who overused the exclamation point were often derided. It was a lazy way to show emotion. ! F. Scott Fitzgerald once said...

I Took A Mental Health Day

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Anyone who’s read my recent posts on how I am learning to accept or about my reactions to our most effective president, knows that my mood is in a state of damage and disrepair. To help fix things up a bit, I took a mental health day yesterday. For me, mental health is often improved by paying attention to my physical health—by engaging in physical activity, by acting young, by playing games. I...

The Posture Experiment

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Like every writer, I spend a lot of time at my desk. That means hours of slumped shoulders, strained neck, and bent back. Hazards of the trade. Today, for example. I’m deep into reading about famously unethical psychology experiments. I lean forward, I peer at my screen, I read and I read. Minnesota Starvation Experiment First, it’s the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (1944-45), which...

Thinking of Ice Rinks in July

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Maybe I’m motivated to write about winter because I’m sweating through the hottest, most humid summer I can ever remember, and I haven’t had a chance to swim once. Not once. And I had another reminder of winter when the New York Times, in an article about climate change, pointed to a scientific study about backyard ice rinks. Who knew backyard ice rinks were the stuff of science? The research...

David Klein

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

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