Alison Clement

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

Tag Archive for ‘Alison Clement’

Inmates

It’s Sunday, poetry day. This is from Sara Backer. INMATES I heard there was a fat skunk, all white, who waddled in the yard followed by two kits the men called babies. I heard about a pair of chipmunks and raccoons that hung around the kitchen. A hummingbird appeared one morning, a gray-tailed hawk at noon, and at night, feeding on mosquitoes, bats carved dark curves in the darker sky. […]

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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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too poor to be smart

Sometimes people have complained that my characters who are working class are too smart to be working class. This complaint illustrates the very same class bias that I was hoping to illuminate. It made me wonder if I had failed. Also a woman whose husband cheated on her wrote me a heartfelt letter saying that my book completely expressed how she felt. Which made me grateful  but sad. A man […]

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taught by nuns

I was reading about lyric essays. I think my essays are lyric essays and not just because they are disorganized. I only learned the term when I went back to school. People do things and don’t even know those things have names, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t know what we’re doing. I kept coming across the name of a particular lyric essayist and I looked her up. The […]

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everything is not going to hell, or going to Mass with my mother

I recently visited my mother who lives not far from Beardstown, Illinois. Beardstown is the town I model Palmyra after in my first book. My mother still cannot understand why people in the town are not more enthusiastic about that book. My book is a little mean about the town. It neglects the kindnesses you find in any little town: people who love their families, who help their neighbors, people […]

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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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