A short story collection that features characters at a crossroads who find hope and humor amidst confusion, and sometimes, darkness. In the title story, a student looking for purpose while studying abroad in Rome ends up finding more than he ever could have dreamed in even his wildest fantasies. In “Magnificent Desolation,” a science teacher whose curriculum is challenged by angry parents finds an ally in the unlikeliest of places. Rays of hope appear even in the stories with a darker strain. “Drafting” features a young woman recovering from a brutal chemotherapy regime, who finds solace in her seemingly irresponsible friend whose zest for life is infectious. “To the Corner,” on the other hand, features an elderly man whose despair is lifted by an unexpected recollection. Absurdity with a surreal edge also makes appearances. An elderly couple eating in a diner in “Fran’s Friend Has Cancer” come to a realization that one of their fellow diners may be much more than he appears, and up to nefarious deeds, while in “The Way the World Ends,” a group of college professors sheltering at a Southern university during a storm-of-the-century event begin their evening discussing a climate in crisis before ending it in drunken debauchery. A short story collection with humor, heft, and heart.
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