Alison Clement

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

not exactly Pinochet, but you know what I mean

an uncomfortably accurate post from my blog dated TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2010: “not exactly Pinochet, but you know what I mean The photographs of Chileans celebrating in the streets after Allende was elected remind me a little of the pictures of people here, after Obama’s election night.  For a moment, goodness triumphed.  And then it changed again. And then it was worse, more stupid and more cruel, than anyone could […]

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Man Ray and teaching

  I don’t tell my students about my doubts. I don’t say I think school is inferior to what we can learn through following our own curiosity, cultivating our own interests and developing our own course of study. I don’t say I’m convinced that the best way to learn to write isn’t found in the classroom. Read and pay attention. That’s how to learn. Listen to people talk. Find out […]

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I Dream of Obstacles

  The night before the term begins, I dream of trying to get to my classroom. I dream of obstacles. Instead of the community college where I work, I drive to a high school My car turns into a child’s tiny toy car and must sometimes be carried The first classroom I go into is a small bedroom The second is a stadium The third is a history class I […]

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the opposite of nostalgia

Early in the morning and I can hear the crickets. I can hear birds, but I can’t tell what kind. It’s only August, but already some of the cottonwood trees are losing their leaves. Cottonwood. Soybeans. Early morning, but someone is out walking. I can see their bright green shirt across the lake. Every day the cardinals come and for a few days we saw an Oriole. Rose of Sharon. […]

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mémoire (masculine), a special use of mémoire (feminine) ‘memory’

This is the way I write it: my sister says she doesn’t remember anything about the Cuban Missile Crisis interrupting our family vacation to Texas or whether we still had the turquoise Thunderbird convertible then or not. Why don’t you write about it? One night in a bar Chuck tells friends the story of when we went to Antigua to set up a printing press for the Antigua Caribbean Liberation […]

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unless it’s cancer, or something

I just lay in bed and think about my body. All the ways it hurts. I dream about words. When you are sick with the flu, it isn’t the time to watch a documentary on HIV. In my dream I am writing my thesis, but I’m not sure what my thesis is and anyway I thought I already got my degree. When you are sick with the flu, it’s a […]

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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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Larry Love

Am I including the subplot of Larry Love, the phony modeling agent, in my novel because the scenes I’ve written about it are my darlings? Do those scenes belong in the novel? My eugenics mystery. Or maybe eugenics thriller.  I spent last week talking to my students about the narrative thesis. Get rid of everything that falls outside of your focus. Just because you love something, doesn’t mean it belongs. […]

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