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“The Zone of Interest”

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About “The Zone of Interest,” long-time movie critic Manohla Dargis at the New York Times wrote, “Jonathan Glazer has made a hollow, self-aggrandizing art-film exercise set in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.” I couldn’t disagree more. This film, loosely based on the plot of a novel by British writer Martin Amis, packed an emotional punch whose pain lingers in me days later. I’m more convinced...

A Lesson in Forest Management

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There was a bit of sadness at the estate today—two trees had to be taken down. A mulberry and a red maple. Both of them were already mature trees when we moved here 28 years ago. I loved them both. The shy mulberry stayed mostly hidden and out of the way in our side-yard wilds, but it was a double-trunk tree, and one of the trunks was split into two sections, both leaning badly, one capable of...

The Tragedy of Oscar-nominated Short Films

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I tell myself I won’t but I do it every year: I go to see the Oscar-nominated Live Action Short Films that my local theater shows. I say I’m not going because invariably the films are extremely depressing and tragic, as if short films (most are thirty minutes or less) are required to be about death, war, tragedy, and trauma to be relevant. While there is no such requirement, again this year...

Tree Trunk In My Way

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For someone who often willingly glues himself to his desk, I’m a physical, movement-oriented person. I need to exercise, do things, play things. I like to compete. I love to test my limits. And as lucky as I’ve been and as devoted as I am to my fitness, my limits are a lot closer than they used to be. The bar is no longer getting higher. It’s only dropping lower. About two years ago I wrote about...

“When We Were Orphans,” Kazuo Ishiguro

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Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the world’s most respected novelists, having won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017 based on a body of work of only seven novels and one collection of short fiction. I say “only” because many Nobel Prize winners have a much larger oeuvre. But Ishiguro’s work has a distinct and unique voice. He’s unlike any writer I’ve come across. His novels feature...

Riveting, Suspenseful, Drama

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I was perusing the offerings on Netflix recently and ended up watching nothing. That’s because I was so absorbed by the three-word tags that Netflix has appended to every movie or series title. Understated, Inspiring, Dramedy Gruesome, Suspenseful, Horror As different titles and their accompanying graphics and text tags were presented to me, one after the other, each one shown just long enough...

What We Talk About When We Talk About . . .

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Back in 2020, I listed “The Most Important Novels in My Life” (including a couple of short story collections). I stated my goal of re-reading these twenty-five books to discover my top ten. I’ve bailed on ever being able to pick a top ten, but I’ve re-read most of the books on my list and just finished Raymond Carver’s collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, originally published in...

“Therein Lies the Brilliance of This Book”

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Readers bring their own expectations and perceptions to a reading experience, and may interpret or connect with a novel in ways an author had never considered. Maybe they see a character trait or motivation that the author didn’t consciously write. Or they find a different meaning in a crucial plot point than the author intended. I’m fascinated when this happens because it reinforces the dynamic...

Greet or Ignore that Passing Stranger?

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I live in a mostly friendly suburban town, where people often greet or at least acknowledge another person when walking past them on the street. But the other day Jim and I were walking in the neighborhood when we reached a corner at the same time as a couple coming from the other direction. They were in conversation; so were we. Jim said hi. I waved. They completely ignored our presence even...

The Fleeting Flavor of Fruit Stripe Gum

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It’s Christmas morning. And my birthday. I’m not sure what age: old enough to know better, yet young enough to think I can get away with it. The living room is in tatters after five kids rip open their Christmas presents. In our stockings are individual packs of Fruit Stripe gum. Five juicy flavors! My favorite! We have to get ready for Mass but I beg my parents to let me have just one stick of...

New Year, New Me?

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I’m into my fifth year of writing this blog and have averaged well north of one hundred twenty posts a year. I’ve written through times of joy and grief. I’ve posted during periods of personal unrest and bursting creativity. I’ve complained and celebrated, praised and pilloried. I’ve carefully researched and carelessly spouted. But for the first time since I’ve started, I’ve gone more than two...

A Year in Review

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Are you tired of all the end-of-year lists yet? The best movies, the acclaimed books, the top photographs, the most important news stories, the famous people who’ve died, the five best/five worst plays for the Bills . . . Well, here’s one more for you, dear loyal readers: the year in review on this blog. I published 112 posts this year, although in the last couple of months my rate of posting has...

Hard on Myself, and Others

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I’m in a meeting with a professional colleague/client who doubles as an adviser to me and triples as someone I can talk to like a friend. I might be the same for him. Today we’re in the middle of a business discussion, but then he shifts the topic as he tends to do and is now telling me a story about when he was young and his mom told him he was very hard on himself. I immediately relate. I’ve...

Fewer Adults are Having Children

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A young woman I’ve known since the day she was born has just had a baby. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with a couple of toddlers—those spirited pint-sized humans discovering the world around them. My nephew and his wife are expecting their first child in the spring. Babyworld brings me a lot of joy. Babies, babies, everywhere—except not really. An article in The...

The Thesaurus

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It was an inappropriate kiss. No, inappropriate implies an error in judgment, but also could mean an oblivious choice. She was definitely not oblivious. She knew exactly what she was doing. A forbidden kiss. That sounds mysterious and foreboding, promising trouble to come. But no, forbidden smacks of rules and regulations. It implies secrecy. This was a kiss out in the open that we all saw happen...

Chain-Gang All-Stars

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I had plenty of reasons to pick up Chain-Gang All-Stars, the debut novel by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. It made The New York Times “Ten Best Books of the Year” list. It was nominated for a National Book Award. And it was a Read with Jenna Book Club pick (that would be Jenna Bush). Plus, I’m always up for a good dose of dystopia (even wrote one myself: The Culling). The premise: a privatized, for...

A Test of Auto Safety Features

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I’m driving on the thruway and testing out two of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) in our new vehicle. Adaptive Cruise Control keeps us traveling at a constant speed but slows down the car to maintain a set distance between our vehicle and the one in front. The other feature I’m trying out is the Lane Keeping Assist System, which keeps the vehicle traveling in the center of the...

My Mother the Movie Star

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I’d never seen this photo until my sister sent it to me. Canada, summer, cottage life. Of course I looked down when someone was taking my photo. I’m guessing I’m around seven years old. My parents are in the background over my right shoulder. If I was seven, my mom was forty-one. She looks so exotic to me in this photo, like a movie star all in white with her sunglasses and...

Unusual Movie Choice for a Holiday

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For various reasons, it was just the four of us this year for Thanksgiving. With Owen studying forestry in New Haven and Julia working full time as a dietician and studying for her Master’s, the kids lead busy lives. Having this day together felt like a gift. We all contributed to our Thanksgiving feast. Owen is the cranberry sauce expert. Julia handled the Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes...

Black Friday at its Best

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I spent Black Friday in my usual way—shopping and shopping and shopping. No, not at all. In the afternoon, a walk at Five Rivers with Owen. He’s teaching me to identify tree species. Then at night, Harriet and I went to see our friend Howard’s band, the Coal Palace Kings. They play annually on Black Friday at the Hangar in Troy, and maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll play one other gig...

David Klein

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

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