CategoryTwo-minute Reads

“Mercy Street” — Jennifer Haigh

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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...

Facebook at its Finest

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I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, for the usual reasons. I’ve got nothing to brag about. I don’t post proud-parent pictures, glamorize my perfect vacation (not that I’ve taken one recently), or spout about my life philosophy. I’m also not a shameless self-promoter on Facebook, although I do occasionally post a subliminal message about how much someone might enjoy one of my books...

A Summer Blockbuster Streaks Across the Sky

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My friend Jimmy texted me and said it was $7 night at the Spectrum and did I want to go to the movies. What film did he want to see? Top Gun: Maverick. Uh, no. Not my kind of movie. But my friend said his son saw the movie and it was incredible and the action sequences were some of the best he’s seen. Plus, it’s got a 99 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s almost...

Busy on the Summer Solstice

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Lucky me, I was awake at 5:13 a.m. this morning when the summer solstice started in the eastern time zone in the Northern hemisphere. At that moment, the earth arrived at the point in its orbit where the North Pole is at its maximum tilt toward the Sun. The result is the longest day—and shortest night—of the calendar year. I was too busy to make the trip to Stonehenge for the summer solstice...

This Artist Friend of Mine

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1990, Santa Cruz, CA: One of the other waiters pointed her out to me. That’s Linde. She always comes alone and sits at table twelve and drinks at least two margaritas. She has a German accent, loves to talk,  full of energy. Once or twice a week she comes in. I seat her at table twelve. I make sure she gets her drink. We talk about the menu and she’ll try anything that’s new from the chef...

How to Leave a Party

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I was at a social gathering in a bar with people I hadn’t seen in a long time—50 years! It was a reunion of my elementary school. We were a big enough group I could go unnoticed for a bit, and small enough that I had a chance to speak with everyone, share a few memories, and catch up on what we were doing. I enjoyed seeing my old classmates. Most of them I could still recognize. I also enjoyed my...

“The Candy House” — Jennifer Egan

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In Jennifer Egan’s 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “A Visit From the Good Squad,” the goon is time. There is no escaping the passage or ravages of time. That novel of many characters and many narrative threads unfolded in the world of rock music. In her latest novel, “The Candy House,” the candy house is the digital world: you think it’s free, but there’s always a price to pay when handing...

“Ask Your Doctor About . . .”

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The United States has the distinction, along with New Zealand, of being the only countries that allow direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical marketing. Three cheers for the First Amendment! Marketing prescription drugs to consumers was first given the green light by the FDA in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1997 that drug advertisements began to flood the media landscape. That was when constraints...

My Lesson From Tom’s Life

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I went to a celebration of Tom, an old friend who had died. It’s the kind of event that takes place now instead of wakes and funerals for those who aren’t religious. I didn’t know Tom that well—he’s the younger brother of one of my closest friends—and I hadn’t seen him in over twenty years. But I have a few memories. One was when Tom took us on an epic mountain bike ride way back when I first was...

The Parade is Back

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After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, the annual Memorial Day parade returned to the Town of Bethlehem in Upstate New York. It’s one of those small-town parades that find that balance between a martial and a community spirit. It starts just a couple of blocks from my house so I walked down this morning to offer a hearty sendoff. A few veterans, many firefighting vehicles, and community...

How to Appear More Intelligent

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“3 Easy, Research-Backed Ways to Appear More Intelligent,” the headline reads. How can I not click on that link? It’s like being thrown a guaranteed lifeline in a stormy sea of self-doubt. At my age, my intelligence quotient might have peaked, or even begun its descent on the far side of the bell curve. It might be all I’ve got left is putting lipstick on the pig—at least I might be able to...

“Sea of Tranquility,” Emily St. John Mandel

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In 2020, six years after her huge bestseller “Station Eleven” Emily St. John Mandel published “The Glass Hotel,” a novel about a Ponzi scheme I found compelling and have read twice—one of those alternatively structured novels that follows a diverse cast I tend to gravitate toward. Less than two years later came “Sea of Tranquility.” I thought: Mandel is on a creative tear. She’s wholly juiced up...

A Modest Pronoun Proposal

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I’m a guy that knows my grammar, yet I’m constantly messing up a person’s preferred pronouns. I forget that a friend formerly referred to as she now uses the pronoun they. But they is a plural pronoun and so I get confused. And he is now zhe. But what’s the correct pronunciation of zhe? And then there’s hir, which looks like a typo. As much as I appreciate your desire to use your pronouns of...

The Most Important Novels in My Life

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I have set myself a task for 2020: reread the ten most important books in my life. To qualify for the list, the novel (or novella or short story collections; I’m including those also), must meet one or more of the following criteria: It was so profound and meaningful to me that I’ve read the novel multiple times.It significantly influenced my own development as a novelist.The...

The Mindset Gap

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There’s a weekly Sunday email newsletter I subscribe to called Brain Food, which claims to be “packed with timeless insights and actionable ideas from a wide range of disciplines.” It’s kind of a self-improvement epistle centered around thinking and decision making, mostly geared toward the professional class, but interesting enough to a writer like me. This week’s newsletter, in its “Tiny...

David Klein

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

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