Alison Clement

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


dear diary

I began with a diary. Dear Diary. It was black and shiny and had a key that locked. I’ve kept journals, off and on, since then. During my teens and early twenties, I kept dream journals, too. I once lived with a violent, nonverbal man. When I broke up with him, I collected all the dreams I had had of him, since the first day we met, and bound them […]

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Longer than Jesus

         Somebody bought the mountain above Yachats and cut down all the trees. The mountain is what gave the town its name. Ya-chats, an Indian word. At the the foot of the mountain. Not at the foot of the clearcut. People in the laundramat said it was a producer from Los Angeles who did it. The  producer had a fellow who lived up there on the mountain, the caretaker, a […]

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Indries Shah says we have forgotten how to listen to stories. Do you remember reading stories as a child?  I want to read like that again, like nothing else matters. I grew up near a small woods in Greenville, South Carolina. I played there everyday, almost always alone. That was before everyone was afraid and stopped letting their little girls go off by themselves. When I started Catholic school in […]

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Zavis Kalandra

In The Art of Fiction David Lodge talks about  the refusal of Paul Eluard, then one of the world’s most renowned Communist poets, to intervene on behalf of his friend, Zavis Kalandra, a surrealist who was executed by the new, revolutionary Czech government. Lodge tells about Milan Kundera describing a day in June of 1950 when the ‘streets of Prague were once again ‘crowded with young people dancing….’ The day […]

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how can it be both?

Doris Lessing says that writers don’t need memoirs or biographies.The writer reveals herself through her writing. She says, for instance, that you can clearly understand Dickens by reading his novels. You can see his different personalities. His novels are a map of who he is. Scott Trurow taught himself to write by studying Dickens. Lessing is always urging us to experience life directly instead of “through a screen of theories, […]

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the preacher wore a fuzzy tie

the preacher wore a fuzzy tie

I spent most Francisco’s wedding party talking to one of my favorite people, a young woman who is a friend of my children. We are alike, my daughter says, because we are smart but have no common sense. I wondered if the fact that I shared my daughter’s observation with her was an example of having no common sense. At any rate, she told me that one time she was […]

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another word for hell

  I was reading Night and helping plan a fundraiser for an elementary school in Gaza. I was reading Night and writing a novel that includes the Kabbalah, which is a form of mystical Judaism. The Kabbalah is also called The Tree of Life, and included in this Tree is its shadow, which is known at Qliphoth. Qlipoth is the place where all the half- formed things of creation go, […]

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too cool to care

  The two hip girl bartenders at the brew pub in Eukia hadn’t heard about the nuclear plants melting down in Japan. They shrugged when we told them. Why should they pay attention to something like that? We can’t do anything about it anyway, they said.

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  –has it really come to this, that it would be a huge uphill battle to ban something that has no purpose except to kill up to thirty-three people before anyone can stop you?                   Katha Pollitt     The Nation   1/31/2011

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