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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...

THE EXORCIST, William Peter Blatty

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I first read THE EXORCIST when I was still in high school, late at night, in bed. One more chapter before turning out the light. It was sometime before the movie came out, because I was able to frame my own images and let my imagination take over, and not see only Linda Blair. This might be the original paperback version. Like everyone else, I sped through the novel. I can’t say I remembered...

LEGENDS OF THE FALL, Jim Harrison

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I’m only going to write about one of the three novellas in this collection, “The Man Who Gave Up His Name.” The other two, “Revenge” and “Legends of the Fall,” are worthy, but neither impacted me the way “The Man” did. I first came to this novella (89 pages) years ago when I was still in my twenties and starting out as a writer. It was...

To My Friend Jim

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We met when I was sixteen. We were still in high school and Jim dated a friend of mine who lived down the street. I didn’t see much of him for a few years after that, but then Jim transferred to the university I attended and we lived together in an apartment with Fred our senior year. Jim embraced me as a friend at a time when I had few other friends in college. I could even say he saved me. I...

Six-Word COVID-19 Stories

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I’ve got a thing for the six-word story form. I wrote six-word memoirs. Here are some six-word coronavirus stories. Locked downOpened upLocked again Craved hug,settled for a nod No mask?Don’t tread on me. More idiocy, more cases, more deaths Social distancing comes natural to me Bartender! A double martini!Sorry, students United States leadsin COVID-19.Sadly. Sanitizer takes over from...

GET WHAT YOU WANT

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1. It is an early autumn afternoon, the leaves just beginning their brilliant decline. Twice when a cloud passes overhead she puts on her sweater, only to take it off when the sun comes back out. The pale blue cardigan slips easily on and off her narrow shoulders. The cemetery is old and large enough that here, deep within the borders and down an easy slope among elms and maples and rows of...

SMILES ON WASHINGTON SQUARE, Raymond Federman

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In 1985 I went to the University of Buffalo to finish my graduate degree in creative writing. Raymond Federman headed up the program and that year “Smiles on Washington Square” was published. This novel was my introduction to metafiction, or experimental fiction, or whatever you want to call it–and I was blown away. My world expanded. The definition of a novel expanded...

Elegy for Irene Klein

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A beer and a cig, why not? That’s my mom. I hardly knew her. I left home at age 17 to go to college. She died when I was 24. How can you know your parent when you’re just a kid and a teenager, so wrapped up in your own life, so lacking any perspective? I could see my mom as only my mom and hardly as an individual with a life of her own. By the time I was mature enough to go there, she...

My List of Must-See Movies

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I have already created a list of the Most Important Novels in My Life (which is up for occasional editing and review). Now comes my list of must-see movies. As with the most important novels, for a film to make the list it must meet one or more of the following criteria: It was so profound and meaningful to me that I’ve seen the movie multiple times.It significantly influenced me as a...

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...

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...

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...

David Klein

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

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