CategoryTwo-minute Reads

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

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Have you seen the new commercial for Apple Watch? It’s both appalling and brilliant. The first thing Harriet said was, “I want that watch.” In the first 911 call, we hear the audio of a woman after she flipped her car and it’s starting to fill with water. The second call features a paddleboarder who has drifted out to sea. The final emergency features a farmer who has fallen from a ladder and...

“Don’t Look Up”

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Some people I know are calling Don’t Look Up brilliant and must-see filmmaking. Others are more critical, pointing out the movie is smug and heavy-handed. Such divergence of opinion generally gets me interested and I sat down recently to watch Don’t Look Up. The premise: scientists discover a comet hurtling toward the earth, with impact expected in six months, and the result to be human...

THE BURNING, Megha Majumdar

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A BURNING is a promising debut by author Megha Majumdar. Set in India, the novel weaves together the stories of three characters. Jivan is a young Muslim woman from the slums who is wrongly arrested and jailed for the terrorist act of burning a passenger train. Lovely is a transgender woman known to Jivan and pursuing her dreams of becoming an actress. And PT Sir is a school physical education...

The Joy of Virtual Birthday Wishes

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One birthday wish came from an elementary school classmate I haven’t seen or spoken to in over 50 years. Another wish was from a local friend I’d seen just the night before. Then there was the old California friend who I seldom saw even when I lived in California. A former colleague from 25 years ago wished me the best of birthdays. A cousin I unfriended a couple of years ago because I kept...

Joan Didion–THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD

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I’m reposting this from last year in honor of Joan Didion, an incredible writer who died yesterday at the age of 87. The reason she wrote is the reason I write. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” The author of that line, Joan Didion, is a rare breed in America: a literary writer with rock star status. I finally had the pleasure of watching the 2017 Netflix documentary about...

Your Strengths Reveal Your Weaknesses

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I have a friend and colleague who recently wrote a blog post in which he admitted he wasn’t a confident person, and that self-doubt was always present in him. I was completely taken aback by his admission. Some people wear their self-doubt on their sleeves. They’re indecisive, or when they do make a decision are often consumed with a sense of buyer’s remorse that they’d made the wrong choice. Or...

THE NIGHT WATCHMAN, Louise Erdrich

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Louise Erdrich is one of the most admired American authors and arguably the Queen of Native American Literature. I was awed back in 1984 by her debut novel, LOVE MEDICINE. It was my introduction to a novel in stories, without a central plot. Over the years, I’ve read a few of her other novels, and as good as they were, none of them made the same impression on me. Nothing like the first kiss, as...

A Date That Will Live in Infamy

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Today is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the day that officially drew the United States into World War II, what President Franklin Roosevelt called “a date that will live in infamy.” There was a news story today on the Bidens visiting the World War II memorial in Washington. Profiles on a few remaining survivors. Articles about that day in history. And...

The Best Books of 2021

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This is the time of year when media outlets that review books come out with their best-of-the-year lists. I compared the top ten books of 2021 as determined by the editors at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Amazon. What’s clear to me is there is very little consensus on what the top ten books are, which is not surprising for a number of reasons. First, there...

Mistakes Were Made, But I Was Grateful

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The other day I went for a run (some walking) at a trail network in town called Normanskill Ravine. True to its name, the single-track trail is steep. It doesn’t just go down into one ravine, but leads through a series of drops and climbs and switchbacks that lead you to the Normanskill, where you run flat along the creek for a while before looping back through long ascents and descents. Three...

Book Burning

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“It was a pleasure to burn.” So thought Montag, the protagonist of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451,” as he hosed kerosene onto a burning pile of books. Montag has good company in contemporary America. Two members of a Virginia school board recently called for a book burning of “sexually explicit” books. A school board member in Florida demanded that someone must be...

Duke Whips It Out

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We’re practicing in the park across from the Zoo in the big meadow next to the golf course. Our Coach, Duke Donovan, has us run tackling drills over mud puddles. He blows his whistle and says huddle up men. It’s either a dirty joke or three laps for the fumble on the last play. We circle around, 11- and 12-year-olds of the St. Mark’s Lions 90-pound football team. He’s probably 30, younger than...

I’ve Been a Drug Addict

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I’ve been a father who doesn’t take his heart condition seriously but instead focuses on preventing his daughter from marrying a man he doesn’t approve of. I’ve been his daughter, a recent college graduate who meets the wrong kind of guy and slides into drug and alcohol abuse. I’ve been that wrong kind of guy who isn’t an awful person but will manipulate others to achieve his goals. I’ve been a...

A Book Review Makes My Day

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How do you discover the next book to read? For me, I look at my to-be-read pile teetering on the edge of my desk or my written list and choose from there, but the pile and list have origin stories as well. I read the New York Times Book Review every Sunday and receive the NYT Book Briefing newsletter and newsletters from several bookstores. Fellow readers who I trust make recommendations...

Another Failed Diet

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The most controversial item on the election ballot in the Town of Bethlehem this past Tuesday was Proposition 6. If passed, a 1.3 mile stretch of busy four-lane road between Elsmere Ave. and the Albany city line would undergo a “Road Diet,” funded primarily by federal and state money. Four traffic lanes would be reduced to two—one in each direction—plus a center turn lane, dedicated bicycle lanes...

David Klein

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

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