Jeff Helgeson Thresholds

ISBN 13: 9780961587970

Thresholds

 
9780961587970: Thresholds

Thresholds is a novel which like Dante's Divine Comedy, follows the journey of a man at the mid point in his life as he travels through the landscape of Rome on the last day of the twentieth century. Preoccupied with issues of the past and the future, Wayne Janus, an American executive of an Italian-owned international corporation, assesses the course of his personal life, speculates about the beginning of the twentieth century as it was viewed by his respective grandfathers and engages in a flirtation with an attractive international student who he brings as his guest to a celebration to welcome the new millennium. Throughout the day, the path of this visitor in The Eternal City is crossed by numerous people whose individual stories are woven into the tapestry of the narrative. An aged, former Italian futurist turned fascist, a young waiter and his married lover, an Italian businessman and his pregnant mistress, and a self-appointed street prophet, offer a compounding parallax of points of view that, like an abstract painting, brings each of their figures to the surface of this work and shows the connection between every man and the history that surrounds him.

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About the Author:

After many years of writing for the stage Jeff has returned to prose for his novel Thresholds, a "Novel For the Changing Millennium." Jeff Helgeson is an established playwright who has written numerous works for the stage in Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, and Saint Louis. He grew up in the Nelson Algren-Saul Bellow area of Chicago's northwest side, and his plays have been produced at Stage Left Theater, Victory Gardens Studio Theater, The Chopin Theater, Zebra Crossing Theater, Amethyst Theater, The National College of Education, The Greenview Arts Center, and The Atrium Theater in Chicago, as well as The Workhouse Theater in New York, The Metropolitan Studio Theater in Milwaukee, and The Mid Town Art Center in St. Louis. His work has been featured in Tomorrow Magazine, Letter eX, Performink, and The Chicago Artists Coalition, as well as in numerous literary magazines. A graduate of The University of Chicago, he currently holds an administrative position with Roosevelt University where he acts as an advisor to the literary journal, The Oyez Review. He is the former Drama Chairman for the Society of Midland Authors, and is a member of The Dramatist Guild of America and The Chicago Alliance of Playwrights.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

FROM CHAPTER 1

It was the appearance or disappearance of the headlights that had made the difference, the only difference between the dusk and the dawn. The Arch of Constantine rose, as always, abruptly out of the pavement beside the Coliseum, and, on the boulevard below the iron-railed balconies of the Hotel Numina, a constant flow of traffic seemed to neither thin nor thicken, but merely to continue - endlessly.

Wayne Janus stood looking out through the subtly tinted panes of glass in the latched and tight fitted pair of doors, and he could only imagine the only grandfather he had known, a full hundred years before, then only half the age that he was now, standing in the opened entrance of the three-room ranch house next to the White River in South Dakota from which he had gazed out as the earth had turned one last revolution on its axis into what had been its unknown future. And then, as now, the clocks all across the world's surface had inched forward with optimistic enthusiasm into "The Century of Progress," into whatever it had been that advancing time had held as what was yet to come. He could picture the other one too, his mother's father, whom he had never met, the aspirant actor lost within the crowd scenes of the touring companies that had come to Chicago's McVicker Theater, the Kaiser-fleeing anarchist who had left the original unified Germany, The Second Reich, and then died of tuberculosis in his mid-thirties, leaving a large family and an even larger set of debts behind. Each of them had stood at the entranceway of the then coming age, and each had watched from his own widely separate vantage point as the remaining few seconds had slowly tick-tocked their way into the unimaginable pageant that had transformed and finally swept the world that they had known into virtual non-existence.

Wayne stood for another moment with one hand lightly touching a window pane in the door before him. It was far easier to look back than it was to look ahead, he thought, although he had always prided himself on doing both. He drew his hand away, and the curtain swung down once more across the smooth cleanness of the glass.

In light and shadow, across the latticework of latitudinal and longitudinal divisions from the equator to the poles and from Greenwich, England to the Marshall Islands, there was one single focus of mind: time. It had been so at least twenty times before. It had been so annually in the west for countless centuries before that. The gates to the four-sided temple dedicated to the ancient deity of good beginnings and good endings had either opened or closed in Rome where the day begins and ends and always the thought had been the same. It was there now, there in his mind as he showered away what remaining fatigue he still felt. It was there in other minds simultaneously raising to consciousness throughout the city beyond the locked door of the room where he had spent the last full night of the century. It was there in the minds of all those billions spread out beyond the full circle of the horizon. Everywhere, there was this same notion of the past stirred by hope for the future. Time was unfolding, a dual-sided sense of past and future uniformly, universally present.

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