Alison Clement

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


maybe Man Ray

One of the Dadists, maybe Man Ray, used to say if you don’t like something, then go look at something else. I think of that a lot these days where everything elicits an opinion, a vote, a certain number of stars. Where if a person has a problem with someone else’s ideas or what they said or how they parked in the lot at Trader Joe’s or if they used […]

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Also a Sandhill Crane

My yoga teacher moved to Florida. Every few days she posts a photograph on Facebook. While most of my friends post updates on Gaza or Ferguson, on labor efforts, climate change, police brutality, Monsanto, or economics, she posts the image of a bird, flying over the ocean; the sunset; a tree. It’s messy, being alive. It’s never all one way or another. It’s Gaza and Ferguson, and it’s also a […]

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Not to be confused with the Middle Ages

Yesterday I heard about a man who stole a can of beer from a convenient store in Georgia and went to jail for a year. I heard the story of the shootings in Santa Barbara.  I heard a school official saying we just can’t do anything. Australia did, you know, but no one talks about that. I heard the story of a girl and her family who couldn’t afford housing and […]

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But it’s also the face of a real child.

It’s the image I want but it is also the face of a real child. I was looking for images for the Pinterest board I’ve created around my latest manuscript. I collect images for story ideas. I collect images around my books. In this latest as yet unpublished book my character Mavis “was a secret animist” as a child. I searched images for “animist” and found a stunning picture of […]

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as if simple pleasure is not enough

I like detective stories. Henning Mankell says that character is revealed in moments of crime, or something like that, and he uses his detective novels, many of which are also films, to talk about politics, too. Which makes me feel better about it, as if simple pleasure is not enough. I’ve watched all the Scandinavian crime TV shows on Netflix. The cops hardly ever carry guns. Fat old cops chase […]

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taking a picture is not enough

A man was pushed onto the subway tracks last week and struggled to get out while a station full of people watched. Even more chillingly, someone took a photograph. I heard a radio commentator explain that this happens with crowds. Everyone thinks someone else will take care of the problem. Maybe it’s a message for us all. Maybe it suggests that we might approach problems—not just a stranger who needs […]

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we are not zombies

When we questioned the District Attorney about the decision to use a SWAT team that night, a “small army,” as one of the journalists characterized it, the DA said that overwhelming force generally encourages submission. Research shows that, he said. At one time, not too long ago, a SWAT team was called in only in rare cases: when hostages had been taken or if there was a mass shooting, but […]

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>hand wringing at CNN

FOX is in charge of filming the Democratic Convention, and so you can understand why there are an inordinate number of shots of people yawning, not paying attention, or looking just plain silly. That’s what we expect from FOX. But what’s the deal wtih CNN? It seems to be an endless stream of criticism, whining and hand wringing. Every time I turn it on, I hear that someone hasn’t hit […]

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>apologists for torture

While I wait for the last season of The Wire to make it to dvd, I’ve been watching The Shield. Yesterday I told Chuck that I can’t figure out if it’s a reactionary program, designed to illustrate the efficacy of torture— show after show, the cops get to the big bad guys by torturing the little bad guys until they tell what they know (and we are glad they’re doing […]

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