Read a selection of Congemi’s stories here.
Coming Soon: Trickster
Shiva is Satisfied
An epistolary novel as prelude to a series of novels entitled Trickster, this present novel set against the events of our times, Shiva Is Satisfied follows the lives of a narrator and his family and close friends as they struggle with the seemingly most catastrophic of times–today’s worldwide destruction by global warming, endless wars of death and refugee camps for millions, ceaseless acts of terrorism, universal fear. A senior official at the Institute for Advanced Science and Creativity, Dr. Dante Mariano, his sisters Tristessa and Ariel, his brother Mariusz, and closest associate I.T .Donovan try to cope with this ubiquitous upheaval, their stories culminating in a surprising conclusion to the novel, involving Dante’s beloved Alessandra, which perhaps resolves his ambivalence towards living.
As he has in his more recent works, Congemi adds to this novels dashes of magical realism. A poor endlessly hardworking woman shrinks in size until she disappears and no one cares or even notices. A lawyer in mid life crisis argues with Apollo over the lawyer’s diminishing sexual life, as well as does another family womanizer, the lawyer’s grandfather, with Erato, until both men are sentenced to appropriate sexual fates. Nagasaki children incinerated by the atom bomb inconveniently appear in real life.
As for himself, Dr. Mariano scurries among the people of his life, trying to comfort everyone by his efforts, and might have said, mordantly and angrily: “I’ve become a rabbit—no, better, lesser, a squirrel looking for carrots or nuts. And in the process I misunderstand a tragic youngster, reach out to a hermit for comfort, bedevil an angelic woman for my own needs. O, I could I channel Shiva and Lear: ‘Blow, hurricanoes; roar; conflagration; perish, moribund earth!'”
The Spirit Flies Wonderful Distances
With his twelfth book, The Spirit Flies Wonderful Distances, Robert Congemi moves somewhat away from realistic literature to writings to one degree or another of magical realism. Realistic pieces appear here and there in the book—”I Know You Now,” “Combat,” “The Homeless,” “The House of Cripples,” but so do stories that begin using the non-realistic to enhance story interest and theme–“In Shadows, “Karmic Riddle,” “Teddy and the Gods.” In these writings, sudden blindness wrecks havoc on sighted people, consciousness floats between the minds of several people, Zeus and Hades and Erato meddle in human lives, so do Justice, Injustice and—surprise—Mark Twain! With other stories, the presence of the magical is majorly increased, as in “Letters from an Ancient Traveler,” “The Great Marathoner,” “At Nighttime, They Come Alive at the Mall.” Manikins do come alive, Time shows up at family get-togethers, Jefferson and Washington appear at coffee breaks, while Archangels, immortal space travelers, and superhuman athletes lend a hand to or bedevil mere mortals. For instance, in “The Great Marathoner,” the world’s greatest runner ever to be materializes on the track of a small town YMCA. “In Letters from an Ancient Traveler,” an eons-old citizen from a star at the center of our galaxy on his way home lingers in Manhattan to discuss contemporary world conditions.
Millennium Noir, Robert Congemi’s fourth novel, is the conclusion of his Millennial Series, which addresses the experiences of American north-easterners from 2000 to 2012. Millennium Blues details life before 9/11 by recounting the midlife crisis of its protagonist, Harry Downs. Millennium Dawn chronicles the effect of 9/11 on a number of young New Yorkers, through the destruction of the World Trade Center to the stunning revelations of Abu Ghraib. Millennium Rose continues this chronicle from Abu Ghraib to the night of Barack Obama’s presidential victory, and now Millennium Noir details another young American in his struggle to cope with the contemporary world, as the country’s exhilaration for the future is contested by extreme world events. The protagonist of Millennium Noir, Simon DeVere, an intellectual representative of his generation, fights to stay existentially positive as he not only combats personal shortcomings, but also a professional wasteland, world-wide economic crisis, and Global Warming. The novel climaxes as DeVere fully confronts his own failures, a seemingly collapsing society, and a series of natural disasters that appear endless.
The First Day of the World
The First Day of the World, Robert Michael Congemi’s tenth book, tells the stories of young men and women at the start of their adult lives and careers, marriages and artistry. It is a world of the past, the late 1950’s, a simpler time where comedy and romance, mysteries and epiphanies abound. Set on Long Island and Albany and south eastern New York, Congemi’s stories tell of first insights of teenagers into the adult world, the further epiphanies of young graduate students and civil servants, and, favorites of Congemi—young, aspiring writers and actors coping with the cost of pursuing their artistic dreams.
Les Yeux (the eyes) is author Robert Michael Congemi’s ninth book. Its theme is a modern one, the existentialist’s assertion that other people’s conceptions of us, so often reductive and hurtful, if not devastating, constitute a kind of hell. Going beyond expressing this theme only in action, Congemi demonstrates it in the two other principal literary genres—drama and poetry.
The Penny Garden
A collection of fictions, mostly very short stories, modest, generally straight forward, as serious as flowers, a penny garden.
The Penny Garden is one of Congemi’s collections of short stories. Find out more on the Short Stories page.
A man of his times–anxiety ridden, neurotic, feeling beset by others, searching for meaning (Millennium Blues)
But with 9/11 everything changed exponentially, Anxiety shot through our veins and a great weight descended upon our shoulders. The anxiety and weight in turn caused a kind of numbness, or at least a slowing down, if not outright paralysis. Perhaps above all, reality seemed broken into pieces. Life had been difficult enough, was difficult enough, but now things were much tougher. (Millennium Dawn)
Then the times seemed even worse than at first. The future seemed no friend at all to us, with calamities following hard upon each other. Was this to be our destiny? Was there to be no deliverance? When not utterly withdrawing from life, we looked to long term solutions, fought harder. And, too, as if a blessing, a political figure appeared on the horizon. (Millennium Rose)
To find out more about all three novels, Millennium Blues, Millennium Dawn, and Millennium Rose, click here.
There being no other way in this life, he would dream his mother into existence. The imagination is often miraculous. (Dreaming Mother Into Existence)
…if a particle, even so prominent a particle, say, as an electron, cannot finally be determined, may I therefore in any good comfort think in quite the same way as I once did? (Vagaries of Fate)
It is not merely that the universe is absurd, Horatio, but that we try so hard to make it meaningful. (The Absurd Heart)
As if in a dream, I saw my characters in a temple of a thousand Buddhas, the statues and paintings smiling down upon them in compassion and for what I determined rightly or wrong was most of the human race. (Temple of a Thousand Buddhas)
Click on the covers above to find out more about the books, or click here to find out more about Robert Michael Congemi.