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65,000 Words Down the Drain


You might have started out with enthusiasm and a vision. With a spark of an idea, a single word, a sentence that intrigued you, an unusual character trait—and you’re off and running. And then at some point you realize you’re running in the dark, taking a wrong turn, smacking into a wall. It happens to every writer, whether you’re working on song lyrics, composing a poem, or writing a short story...

Does Anyone Still Read Charles Dickens?


I asked Julia if she had to read any Charles Dickens in high school. Her groan was quite audible: Great Expectations, the coming-of-age story of the orphan Pip, which she called a long and boring slog. Her response jogged my own memory of slogging through Great Expectations and then A Tale of Two Cities for a class and then never reading Dickens again. At one time the most famous and popular...

The Surreal Swimmer


A writer friend of mine was telling me how much he admired the movie, “The Swimmer,” based on a story by John Cheever. Of course I had to investigate. Cheever was one of those mid-twentieth-century literary lions, and his story “The Swimmer” is his most famous one and was often anthologized (not anymore: twentieth-century white male authors have fallen out of fashion). Before seeing the movie, I...

Killers of the Flower Moon


I was hesitant to see the new Martin Scorsese film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” because its runtime is almost 3.5 hours. I doubted any movie could hold my interest for that long or that I could stay in my seat for that length of time. But my sister insisted I had to see the film, so I did. I stayed in my seat. And I was interested, from beginning to end. The story, based on the book of the same...

The Atheist’s Calling


I remember bits of a conversation with my father, who was a devout Catholic, and along with my mother raised all of his five kids in the Catholic religion. I was an adult at the time, living in California, and back in Buffalo for a visit. I’m not sure what led to his question, which was this: “You believe in God, don’t you?” I didn’t. I’m an atheist. But I didn’t come right out and say it. I...

A “Relaxing and Cooling Loneliness”


Friends is one of those shows that came along after I’d aged out of that type of sitcom, but I got to watch plenty of episodes with my kids, and I developed a fondness for the characters and their foibles. Good old Chandler Bing, charming and anxious, played by Matthew Perry—who was recently found dead. Perry spent a large part of his adult life in rehab battling addiction. More than any of the...

Preserving one Halloween Ritual


I recently wrote in “A Beautiful, Bracing Chill” about how I dove into the chilly waters of Lake Erie even though I was hesitant to do so. But I didn’t want my ritual swim after a run to “become just one more thing I don’t do anymore because I’m old or lazy or too sensitive to the cold.” Yesterday, I realized Halloween was going by the wayside as well. Every year with the kids we used to visit a...

Moon and Cloud


Who among us hasn’t needed to step outside? Take a moment to calm and gather ourselves. And this is what greets us: a world so demanding our attention and wonder, that all else pales. Behind this black cloud, our moon is brilliant and full.

17 Life-Learnings From a Contemporary Philosopher


Maria Popova is a thinker, philosopher, and writer who inspires me every week with her “personal record of reckoning with our search for meaning.” Her website and newsletter, The Marginalian, turned seventeen years old this week, and Maria shared with her readers seventeen of the most important things she has learned—one for each year. I’m sharing her list with you. Click here. Many of her...

I Got Up From My Desk, Then Went Back and Fixed the Link to This Post


Recently I’ve written a few somber posts, like “Facing (or not) the Long Goodbye.” Sometimes I have to do that, to get it out of me. Not that I want to throw it on you, but I believe for all of us there is great value in a sad story. Today is different. Today the sun is shining and the wind chimes are playing an extended set and I remember how much I love October. I got up from...

Facing (or not) “The Long Goodbye”


I just read novelist Amy Bloom’s brief memoir, In Love, about her husband, Brian Ameche, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and decided he’d rather take matters into his own hands and his life rather than face the “long goodbye” of dementia. Although it may be easy enough to kill yourself—guns, razor blades, high heights, etc.—such methods are very messy and traumatic for survivors. Brian...

A Restful Night of Sleep


I need to be mentally and physically sharp for a big day tomorrow. I’m in bed and lights out at 10:32, but I’m thinking about tomorrow’s schedule and so I don’t fall asleep until sometime near midnight. A dream not worth recounting. Awake. Tossing. I only use eight of the twelve phrases that “socially intelligent people use to make an instant connection.” I should be better than that. The outdoor...

One Window is Opening, Another is Closing


Another autumn hike in the mountains. On our last hike in the Adirondacks we showed up early for peak fall color. This week in the Catskills we arrived a little late. Still, these mountains around me are breathtaking under any conditions. The three Catskill peaks of Blackhead, Black Dome, and Thomas Cole are familiar sights to me. An ascent to Windham High Peak, followed by meandering through the...

“You’re Not Too Smart, Are You? I Like That in a Man”


“You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.” So says femme fatale Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) to inept but cocky lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt) when they first meet in Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 directorial debut, the steamy noir film Body Heat. Matty’s pronouncement on Ned’s intelligence sets the stage for what’s to come: she convinces Ned to help her murder her husband so she can...

Dear Gillette:


Dear Gillette: I remember a time not that long ago Harriet would tell me how good I smelled after I shaved. Now? Silence. And for that, I am turning in my loyalty card to your Gillette Foamy shaving cream. I gotta tell you, that stuff stinks now. Whatever you did to the formula, you messed up badly. In case you think I’m simply a disgruntled old drip who’s resistant to change, I’m not the only...

Why Read a Sad Story?


I have a friend who doesn’t want to read books or watch shows or movies that are sad or involve tragic circumstances. It’s a form of curation: she doesn’t need that negativity in her life, doesn’t want to be exposed to those feelings because it interferes with her happiness. I’m the opposite. I find sad, depressing, painful, tragic stories to be essential to my own quest for well-being. These...

A Beautiful, Bracing Chill


One of my joys of summer is taking a hot, sweaty run and finishing on the shores of Lake Erie where I pull off my shirt and shoes and plunge into the refreshing lake—floating, cooling off, recovering. Every time I visit the summer place in Canada I look forward to this ritual. But now it’s near the end of September, summer gone, and the morning temp is cool and the run didn’t make me so hot and...

The Cut-Up Poem


Last weekend at the Albany Book Festival my table was next to the Adirondack Center for Writing table. It’s an organization that’s building a community of writers and readers in the Adirondacks region, offering classes, workshops, events, and more for writers of all ages. They had one of those old-fashioned gumball machines at their table, this one offering (for a free turn of the handle)...

What Midlife Crisis?


I’m tabling at the Albany Book Festival when a woman walks by my display and picks up a copy of In Flight. She immediately flips the book to glance at the back cover copy. Two seconds later she puts the book down. She says in a tone that can only be heard as snarky, “Why would I want to read about a man’s midlife crisis?” “It doesn’t say midlife crisis,” I tell her. “It says midlife transitions.”...

My Favorite Mountains


Back when I was focusing on hiking all 46 Adirondack high peaks that reached over 4,000 feet, that singular mission kept me focused on the biggest mountains and the most grueling hikes. After checking off about half of the high peaks, I abandoned my quest. I realized there were too many mountains that required more than a single day’s hike to conquer, meaning I would have to carry camping...

David Klein

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


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