Harry Downs, the main character of Robert Michael Congemi’s Millennium Blues, the first of three novels together entitled The Millennium Trilogy, styles himself as a man of his times in the year 2001—anxiety ridden, misunderstood, searching for meaning. A mysterious heart ailment first noticed after a 5k run by the sixty year old, book-reading landlord results in a more or less spiritual journey enacted before it is too late to mend his relationships with his ex-wife, children, girlfriends, tenants, etc. The journey is not easy, though he is somewhat guided by his alcoholic, thoroughly disaffected, philosophizing friend Reinhold Dearborne. Suddenly earnest in his thoughts and behavior, Harry tries decency, reasonableness, politics, and religion among other adult aspirations, in order to make himself right with his world before a possible killer heart attack resolves his issues for him. The novel approaches its end as Harry is in sight of his goals.
In Millennium Dawn, this second book of his trilogy The Millennium Volumes, which fictionalizes the years from 2001 until 2008, Robert Michael Congemi presents the stories of representative Northeast Americans from the catastrophe of 9/11 to the disturbing revelations of Abu Ghraib. Whereas Millennium Blues, the first book of the trilogy, told the story of Harry Downs and his family and friends, Millennium Dawn adds a cubistic, stroboscopic account of the lives of several more working class individuals and civil servants as they experience the bombings of the World Trade Center and continue their lives in the wake of this world-changing event.
Millennium Dawn captures first reactions and effects of the bombings on the lives of its characters, a U.S.-based view of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and an analysis by some characters of their past lives in order to better understand their fate. Relationships are examined, changed, exploited, newly begun. The novel concludes with a series of public and personal resistances and adjustments to the war and the new times, as well as a retreat into Eastern philosophy.
In addition to the novel, the book itself includes a number of short stories related to the themes of Millennium Dawn–existential absurdity, evasion and confrontation, and redemption by love–”At the Parade,” “Merry Christmas,” “Carousel,” “A Question of One’s Brother” and “American Medley.”
With Millennium Rose, Robert Michael Congemi continues his novel series, narrating the lives of his New Yorkers from 2004-2008. With the second presidency of George W. Bush as a backdrop, Millennium Rose presents the story of a young philosophy professor who journeys to Albany, New York, to retreat from the w
orld and regain his equilibrium by trying to learn what indeed is the fundamental nature of being and how he might live according to it. Instead he meets several characters from Congemi’s preceding novel
Millennium Dawn and experiences with them the galvanizing sight of Hurricane Katrina upon New Orleans, the escalation of laws and prohibitions post–9/11, and the sudden possibility of the presidency of Senator Barak Obama. As with Millennium Dawn, the author treats this experience from multiple viewpoints to better capture the dislocations of the period. Millennium Rose also includes a long short story entitled “My Dear Alexander,” which depicts the young professor’s days during his tenure review some time previous to that of Millennium Rose.
Millennium Noir, Robrt Congemi’s fourth novel, is the conclusion of his 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.Millennial
All titles from the Millennium Series are available for purchase at fine bookstores, and online at TBMbooks.com.