Alison Clement

observations from a novelist who sometimes wants to say something small and see it published immediately

aging

to my high school English teacher

Dear Mrs. Gist, I remember when you were my English teacher and encouraged me to read poetry. I remember you took me to a reading competition, and I read a poem by Ferlinghetti. I remember once you assigned us to give show and tells, and I showed how to make a Molotov cocktail, which was an intentionally provocative choice on my part — and you jumped up from your seat in alarm. […]

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targeted for elimination

  I wrote a novel based on eugenics, but my agent didn’t like it. Once she didn’t like it, I found that I didn’t either. I thought the backstory was more interesting than the front story. I thought the whole section that takes place when the protagonist lives with a male prostitute in New York City was just an excuse for me to write about when I lived with a […]

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Frank

Some part of me believed I could still go back there. That somewhere existed my 21 year old self and Frank, that I could go back and see him, go up the stairs to his room, sit by the window where he worked, the window where he watched me.  And I’d say sorry. Or I’d say something other than sorry. I’d say the things that sorry makes unnecessary. I’d say […]

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Harry Finds Out About Mortality

No! He’s not even three yet. There was a dead deer in the river. Why? Why did it die? Why is its head in the water? What happened? Why did it die? He always comes back to that, that fundamental, heartbreaking human question. His mom tells him we don’t know. We die and our bodies go back into the earth and things grow and so we’re part of the life […]

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Like a Flat Surface

I told Sherry I had a theory that everything was happening at the same time. We were driving through the countryside in Illinois at night and we were maybe 24 years old. We think what comes later has more weight, that it cancels out or helps us forgive or understand or lose credit for what happened earlier. But what if there is no later? What if it’s all the same? […]

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I am not improving myself.

I read a Facebook post by a guy from Europe about the way Americans ride our bikes. Fast and joyless, like we are in race. We do this for no reason,  without thinking, because hurrying is automatic, it’s what we do. We turn things into a race, into a chore, a goal, into what’s good for us, into self-improvement. So after that FB post, I changed. Now I leave earlier. […]

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Chronology matters.

I used to keep diaries but now I don’t. I have boxes of old journals starting back from when I was eight years old. Now, when I feel like writing in my diary, I think instead I should write for my blog. You cannot post to your blog once a blue moon and hope to keep your readers. Some of my journals are embarrassing and I think I should destroy […]

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a very short guy

My daughter says I need to come up with a name for myself. A grandmother name. It’s something women do, women like me, grandmothers, they decide on their own names. Names like Nana or Mamey. –How about Mimi, that’s a good name. –You can’t just make up a random name. –I’m not making up a random name. If I was making up a random name, I’d say something like Josette. […]

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what’s wrong with old?

My friend Rita says it’s insulting when people call you hon or sweetie because they are disrespecting you because you are old or else because you are young, but I grew up in the south and I like it and besides I am not easily insulted. She hates it when people say ma’am because that is like saying you’re old but in the south you always say ma’am, and anyhow […]

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and then she winked

I’m on page 82 of my revision, but I’m not in the mood of the novel. Sometimes I can listen to music and get in a mood that way. Frieda decides to run away from home. What song would it be? On the radio this morning an actor described making a film about the rape of Nanking. He worried because the actresses were required to cry so much and he […]

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