Thinking Makes it So: Q&A with Gerard Marconi, Author of ‘The Accidental Universe’

With a title taken from a book by physicist Alan Lightman that draws some rather existential conclusions about the nature of reality, Gerard Marconi’s debut collection The Accidental Universe asks big questions and finds some level of comfort with an absence of answers. In stories as large as the biblical creation myth and as small as childhood friends drifting apart, Marconi explores the wavering line between order and random chance, meaning and meaninglessness.

Marconi came to fiction writing late in life, after a full career spent teaching theater and art history in colleges in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The Accidental Universe—which includes both short fiction and one-act plays—draws on his clear passion for the arts, with loving nods to notable playwrights and painters woven into grounded stories about love, death and the flexibility of truth. Shakespeare and Beckett make appearances—not just via references to their work, but as characters in the No Exit-indebted one-act “Waiting for Will.” Cezanne, Warhol and Wyeth feature in their own stories, which showcase Marconi’s deep understanding of their work without overshadowing their core humanity.