“The Last of Us”


I’m not one to gravitate toward a television series based on a video game, but I’ve looked over Owen’s shoulder a few times while he played “The Last of Us,” got absorbed in that story world, and then became interested in checking out the HBO series by the same time. I’m glad I did. Set in a post-apocalyptic world mostly destroyed by zombie-like humans who have been infected with a...

Oscar Nominated Short Films


When I see the list of films that have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture this year, I’m dismayed. I’ve seen about half of them. They were decent, but none of them stood out to me as worthy of great honors. I believe the feature film as a storytelling device is in steep decline, replaced by the limited or recurring series streaming or on cable television. But I still love going...

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow


I’m a generation too far removed to have embraced video games. The extent of my game knowledge comes from occasionally looking over Owen’s shoulder to see what’s on the screen and asking questions about the characters and game objectives. Then I picked up the bestselling novel, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin. This easy-to-read and well-crafted story centers on Sadie and...

Two Books I Put Down, and One I Couldn’t


I’m willing to put down books before I reach the end. I used to suffer from a “finish what you start” syndrome, and I would keep hoping the book would turn the corner and start to captivate me. It rarely did. One reason I’m quicker to move on to a different book is a few years back I calculated how many more books I might read in my lifetime, factoring in average male longevity and my reading...

This is No Musical or Comedy


Last week I saw the film The Banshees of Inisherin and the other night it won the Golden Globe award for “best picture, musical or comedy.” Best musical or comedy? One of the characters plays the fiddle, but this is no musical. And I did laugh a few times during the film, although given my stunned and sad state after leaving the theater, I would never classify what I saw as a comedy. But did the...

The White Lotus: Sex and Intrigue


The world may not need one more take on season two of Mike White’s The White Lotus, but it’s getting mine anyway. The seven-episode season on HBO lands in what I consider a sweet spot in storytelling length—about six to eight hours of programming. This length also works well for adapting novels to the screen, which rarely transfer in any satisfying way to a two-hour feature film, but gain...

The Magic of Air Travel


What is it about air travel that makes it so ripe for speculative storytelling? Maybe it’s the improbability of flying 30,000 feet above the earth in skinny metal tubes. Or as a passenger, the complete surrendering of any sense of control over your fate.   A recent French novel and an American television series both rely on a similar premise about air travel. In the NBC series Manifest (now...

The Goddam Lousy Life of a Teenager


Harriet’s worn copy she’s had since high school. The life of a teenager can be isolating, confusing, and painful. It was at times for me and maybe for you too. It certainly was for Holden Caulfield, the 16-year-old narrator of J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.” Holden has just been kicked out of his third private boarding school and embarks on a dark night of the soul in Manhattan...

Does It Stand the Test of Time?


When I travel, I like to bring along a favorite book to reread. I’ve been rereading from the list of The Most Important Novels in My Life (some short story collections made the list), and one of the questions I consider is whether the book stands the test of time. Almost forty years after first reading Lorrie Moore’s debut book of short stories, “Self-Help,” I realize time isn’t a test, or if it...

White Privilege on Display in “The White Lotus”


Since we’re paying for a plethora of streaming services (HBO, Hulu, Netflix, etc.), I decided it was time to actually watch something on one of them. HBO’s “The White Lotus” was my choice. Six episodes, six hours of witnessing the power of white wealth, privilege, and entitlement, skewered and served up with huge doses of cynicism, cringe, and above all, entertainment. Entertainment because...

Be Careful Who You Slap


A couple of years ago, I made a list of the Most Important Novels in My Life. Since then, I’ve been rereading them to see how well they stand the test of time. Christos Tsiolkas’ “The Slap” remains near the top of my list. The story is set in suburban Melbourne and follows a core group of friends and relatives that cross racial and class lines. It opens with Hector and Aisha hosting a...

How Many Husbands Does a Woman Need?


Sometimes the essence of an entire novel can be distilled from one line in the text. In the case of “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” it boils down to this: “So I had two choices. I could do it for free, or I could do it for free candy.” This moment occurs early in the novel, before Evelyn has become a famous movie star or married any of her seven husbands. She’s a young teen, just developing...

It Couldn’t Happen Here


Or could it? This is the question posed in Philip Roth’s 2004 novel “The Plot Against America” and further explored in the 2020 HBO limited series (six episodes) by the same name. Roth imagines an alternate history when American aviator and suspected Nazi-sympathizer Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election. The result is a turn toward fascism in the...

Banned Books–“The Bluest Eye”


The “State of America’s Libraries Report,” concluded that the year 2021 represented the largest number of attempted book bans in public and school libraries since the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom began tracking challenges 20 years ago. The leading initiators of book challenges are parents, patrons, administrators, and religious and political groups. Only six...

“Mercy Street” — Jennifer Haigh


Jennifer Haigh’s “Mercy Street” was published this past Spring in what has proved to be an exquisite sense of timing. My reading of it also happened to be very timely, given recent Supreme Court rulings against women. Claudia, 43, divorced, no children, is the novel’s protagonist. She is a counselor at Mercy Street, a women’s health center that provides a range of health services including...

David Klein

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


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