Alison Clement

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


writing about ourselves

I once went to a talk given by someone who had just returned from a war zone and everything he said was about himself.  It was not the story of the war but rather the story of him, experiencing war. Not what was happening, but what he was feeling. I hate that. I don’t want to do that. But when I sit down to write an essay, it doesn’t work […]

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reading about Artemis

I’m in a coffee house and a man is sitting across from  me, carrying on a lively conversation with himself.  He is looking in my direction. For a while I nodded and made small exclamatory statements, but then I realized he wasn’t really talking to me. I’m reading Jenny’s story about Artemis, but I’m also trying to hear what the man is saying.  Earlier today someone said that Truman Capote […]

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Little Bird

The structure … is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.    –Arthur Miller I’ve been watching Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallender series.  I like crime movies. but I don’t like to dwell on the crime, which is what American crime movies usually do, as if the crime is what’s interesting. I went to see The Life of Pi, even though I don’t like movies or books that […]

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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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this is not the year

This is not the year I get my garden in shape. I am not starting a new blog about the Weston Price diet. I am not joining the board of the group that works to help people in Gaza, even though it makes me feel terrible to say no. I cannot read the books chosen by my book group anymore. I can’t help with the Obama campaign. I can’t make […]

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when New York said no

When New York said no, I put the manuscript in a box and went on to something else. When I thought of the story at all, it was only to remember the flaws.  The novel is called All the Home I Have, the title taken from a poem by W.E. Aytoun. The earth is all the home I have, The heavens my wide roof-tree. It’s a novel set in Ten […]

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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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Ten Mile

When Sam got shot by the SWAT team up Ten Mile, I decided to go ahead and write the Ten Mile book.  I’ve been working on it this summer. I’m supposed to write in my blog at least once a week, according to what I read about blogs, but clearly I don’t do that.  I’m writing about Ten Mile, that beautiful place, and I’m writing about the people there: odd, […]

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