The Conference on Beautiful Moments by Richard Burgin
(Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction)

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Synopsis

The Chicago Tribune has called Richard Burgin "among our finest artists of love at its most desperate," a critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer dubbed him "one of America’s most distinctive storytellers... I can think of no one else of his generation who reports the contemporary war between the sexes with more devastating wit and accuracy." Through an extraordinarily vivid and variegated set of characters, The Conference on Beautiful Moments, Burgin’s sixth collection of stories, continues his daringly dark yet often humorous exploration of these themes, as well as our mysterious quest for truth, success, and identity.

In the gently satiric "Jonathan and Lillian," a movie star throws a dinner party with very different meanings for her biographer, her butler and ex-lover, and herself. In "Cruise," an aging straight man befriends a young gay man. Together they meet on their cruise ship’s deck to confess to each other "the worst thing they have ever done." In the title story, a journalist sent to investigate a conference formerly devoted to discussing beauty in the arts discovers it has turned into something considerably more sinister.

In The Conference on Beautiful Moments, Burgin writes with equal compassion and insight about the homeless and the wealthy, prostitutes and businessmen, an autistic child and an art forger. His characters are masterfully illuminated by their interior narratives, which burst sharply into conversations at once intimate and calculated.

 

About Richard Burgin

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Richard Burgin is the author of 11 previous books, including The Spirit Returns, Fear of Blue Skies, and the novel Ghost Quartet. Three of his books were named Notable Books of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Burgin recently won his fifth Pushcart Prize, and he has had 15 other stories listed by the Pushcart Prize anthology as being among the year's best in previous years. He is both founder and editor of the internationally distributed and award-winning literary journal Boulevard and a professor of communication and English at St. Louis University.
 
Published November 30, 2006 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. 192 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Business & Economics. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Conference on Beautiful Moments

Publishers Weekly

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Burgin, author of 11 books (including The Spirit of Returns) and publisher of Boulevard, dwells on the violence, and the humor, of misconnection in impressive detail.

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Project MUSE

But what happens in a society so materially advanced that primary physical and psychological needs are easily met, the state never subscribes to overt cruelty, and there is enough time left over to ponder the choice between generosity and cruelty?

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