In this fourth and concluding volume of his short story collection quartet IN THESE TIMES, Robert Michael Congemi further extends his thematic considerations. In this volume, he investigates relationships between generations and social classes, the nexus of history and individual experience, the alliance of humor and tragedy, and the depth of self- and epistemological deception. Additionally, he goes on to explore variations on his aesthetics and philosophical outlook, including the fictionalizing of the essay and the calculus of learning. On the one hand, in The Temple of a Thousand Buddhas an aged and failed bohemian deems existence a trickster god, an artist experiences the exorbitant price of intellectuality, and the husband of a dying wife fails to render cancer in any way intelligible to his family. On the other hand, a vaguely-perceived narrator bears witness to the working class, a cluster of women strive to comprehend the unfathomable, and an academic insists on the grace of insight and love.
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“For me,” Congemi writes, “Stories should have appeal and sophistication and be for the serious reader—an aspiration as old as Ovid— and deal with something very real. Stories also should be universal enough so that they don’t age.” Congemi teaches at SUNY’s Empire State College. Find out more by visiting www.robertcongemi.com.