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The Calling of Saint Matthew


The Fountain of the Four Rivers

My newest work, tentatively titled By the Fountain of the Four Rivers, is a linked collection of short stories, or a novel-in-stories, set in Rome between the morning of the devastating December 2004 South-Asian tsunami and the death of John Paul II in April 2005.

The stories cycle around these events as well as the concerns of the book's central characters: a Boston stocks analyst and his pregnant wife, a young Montessori teacher from British Columbia involved with a married man, a Chicago-born hostess who takes a leave from her job in Tokyo’s Ginza district, a native Roman who works as a centurion outside the Colosseum, a pet-store owner from San Francisco who travels to Rome to trace the footsteps of his recently deceased daughter, a divorced New York academic facing an ethical dilemma at her university, and a former Christian Brother who travels to the holy city to pray for his ailing stepsister and to climb on his knees the twenty-eight steps of La Scala Santa. Interweaving these characters are several recurring figures, including a Roman performance artist dedicating himself to reenacting the life of Caravaggio, a young woman from Ferentino who plays the organetto at the foot of the Fountain of the Four Rivers, an unscrupulous but highly knowledgeable German tour guide, and a former nun who has left her cloistered convent in Croatia for a life of social service in Rome.

The book is also about the city of Rome itself, as each of the stories reflects, and draws its central narrative from, the religious history and art in of one or more of Rome’s churches. The book is loosely patterned after Krzysztof Kieslowki’s work, adapting aspects of his interconnected series of short films, The Decalogue, as well as his Three Colors trilogy and his film The Double Life of Véronique.


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