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The Conference on Beautiful Moments (Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction) Hardcover – November 30, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0801885181 ISBN-10: 0801885183
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. In "Mayor Bat," a man picks up a drunken woman at a bar, takes her home, and proceeds to humiliate and terrorize her because she is "addicted to humiliation," and he must change her behavior. "The Second Floor" features another sociopath in the form of a man obsessed by a young girl in a Philadelphia park, Abby, whom he probably killed; the second girl he picks up and takes home learns to look and act like Abby to please her keeper. In "Vivian and Sid Break Up," Vivian does the leaving after 13 years, but feels galled by the prospect of Sid's dating another woman. The narrator of "Robert and His Wife" is a lonely man who befriends the charismatic Robert at a literary meeting, but finds double dating his fabulous ex-wife. The title story, set at a Florida conference on beauty that grows increasingly more confessional and bizarre, concludes this astute exploration-touched with satire-of emotional vacancy and its attendant brutality.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal

This compelling collection of short fiction explores the lives of people who are haunted by personal anguish and terrible loneliness. Most of the main characters in these stories are financially stable but are nonetheless emotionally impoverished and so desperate for meaningful human interaction that many seek comfort from strangers, often with predictably unfortunate results. For example, in the poignant title story, Martin is a solitary and unhappy young man who receives $50,000 from a trust fund established for him by his grandmother. Although Martin's ambitions are modest?"to be near a friendly group of people"?he is unable to realize them, and the story ends when the prostitute he has tried to befriend robs him. This strong collection (Burgin's third following Private Fame, Univ. of Illinois, 1991) is recommended for libraries with large modern fiction collections.?Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community-Technical Coll., Ct.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (November 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801885183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801885181
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,042,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Penn May on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While many readers may find Richard Burgin's work disturbing, there is no doubt he is a master storyteller. Each word and phrase is carefully crafted and compels the reader forward. Often the endings do not seem to resolve much, rather they seem to hurl you into darkness, spinning and twirling, disoriented, and awash in loneliness, with an eerie sense of "it's not over yet." But if you are confident enough to regain your footing and if you appreciate the glow of exquisite writing, then don't deny yourself these stories.

Women in particular may have a hard time finding Burgin palatable, as his work is often about male strangeness, lurking emotional twists, and implied violence. But for those women wanting to explore the dark psyche of disturbed men, and the motives of female characters who interact with them, it can be eye-popping and intellectually stimulating.

Even trying to review Burgin's work can be daunting. The stories vary widely in content. The characters are complex. And the endings often leave you feeling uneasy. (Maybe that's why there aren't many reviews here on Amazon. I'd love to hear from others.) Bottom line, however, this is superb writing. Don't miss out. I echo Floyd Skloot; it's no wonder he won five Pushcart Prizes.

An excellent review by Julia Gordon-Bramer of Burgin's other recent short story collection "The Identity Club" can be found online at nighttimes.
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