Alison Clement

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

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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Like a Little God

opening of Like a Little God, a novel Every fall you can see the fish gathered at the mouths of the rivers or in the tidewaters, waiting, and the fishermen waiting, too.  The rains come, the water rises and the fish begin to swim upstream. A steelhead is the same as a rainbow trout, except a rainbow trout stays in fresh water and the steelhead doesn’t. A rainbow trout has […]

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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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The Northwest Blog Tour

(the official) NORTHWEST BLOG TOUR in which writers answer four questions and then post those answers to their blog What am I working on? So many things! Last week I finished a young adult novel, The 5 ½ Senses of Sophie LaVelle, based on the Tarot cards, a family curse and the 19th century secret society, The Golden Dawn. I did not write this because YA is a hot market, […]

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the wrong reader

Dense, dreary and boring,  one Amazon reviewer calls WG Sebold’s book, Austerlitz, like it doesn’t occur to him that he might simply be the wrong reader. Like maybe he doesn’t get it. Man Ray says if you don’t like something, turn away, go find something else. Which is hard to do but good to keep in mind. I was walking with Harrison yesterday at dusk, my favorite time of day. […]

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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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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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I always say Irish

  We arrived on Bloomsday and went to the pub. The sun shining and warm and all the girls were in their summer dresses. There is something automatically familiar about Ireland, although I might be imagining that. I like to say I’m Irish but I’m German, French, English and Scottish, too. Also Dutch. Americans pick their favorite nationalities and claim them. I always say Irish and French.       […]

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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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