At the aforementioned literary fest, I heard Cunningham call himself a 'language queen' and then later in the...more
In Specimen Days, Cunningham offers three novels based on Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. In the first novella, set in Victorian NYC, a mentally-challenged factory worker has taken his dead brother's job even a...more
I wanted to spread around...more
And that's not even true, because how could I ever recapture how I felt after reading the...more
and then. it was so disappointing. part of it may be personal, but i don't think all of it.
he does (or tries to do) what he did with The Hours, but i think he fails spectacularly. there are three stories, in three separate time periods, and there are things interwoven between each of the stories that links them together. instead of virigina woolf, it's walt whit...more
1. A kid with an awful life and effectively dead parents in industrial revolution-era NYC laments his dead brother, is eaten by machines, falls in love with a prostitute. Things are so desperate he starts hallucinating.
2. Present day cop realizes her rich white stock broker boyfriend likes her because she's exotic. There's a child terrorist plot. She abducts...more
i ran into him in the bathroom and somehow i started telling him about some personal problems, he listened and gave me advice. on that alone, i decided to read the book.
the first story. done, couldn't do it.
the second story. no way.
the third story... the lizard in the future love story with a robot? i thought it was great. i don't even like fantasy...more
When an author follows up a PEN/Faulkner and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel with one that shares a similar structure, critics swarm. Call him audacious, but Cunningham, author of The Hours (1998) and At Home at the End of the World (1990), has again written three interrelated stories and incorporated a major literary figure, swapping The Hours
It also is three very dreamlike and sometimes eerie stories that could not be any more different. All of them have a surreal air to them, but play in very different times and have an all together very different feel to them. Sad, scary, suspenseful and downright funny and absurd, this b...more
But I found it a beautiful novel. It's odd. There is a part of me that was left a bit lost by it at first. It plays with genres with which I'm well versed, but in a way I wasn't expecting. Having Cunningham, who was so adept at bringing the present to life in The Hours, bring to life the past seemed natural. W...more
This particular book uses Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass as the thread across three tales: one in turn-of-the-century New York when machines were becoming a part of daily and work life; then in early twenty-first century New York set again...more
Grande, grandissima letteratura. L'ultima fatica letteraria di M. Cunningham lo conferma come un brillante genio letterario. Ha una struttura che riprende quella di "Le ore": tre racconti, tre epoche diverse, tre voci diverse. Tre...more
The parallels (reincarnations?) of the characters (in a nod to Whitman and his stars and grass and energy continuium) makes for a fascinating read; I love the tangled web of connections, of cause-and-effect, of circulari...more
A triptych of tightly-wound exercises in genre--a Machine Age ghost story, a whodunnit set in the Patriot Act hysteria of the mid 00s, and a scifi roadtrip through a blighted America featuring lizard people--Specimen Days baffled the hell out of me. Is it an extended meditation on the machinations and strangeness of our bodies? A sly, Marx-friendly comment on how...more
Cunningham divides this novel into three sections spanning about three hundred years.
Several threads tie these stories together: characters’ names, a white bowl with strange blue symbols on the side, and Walt Whitman’s poetry. References to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire are strong in the first stor...more
It is interesting that Cunningham seems to keep progressing toward genre fiction (and in fact, the science fiction section of this book worked the best for me, with the sort of crime/detective coming in second), and has stuck w...more
I mean, I'm not going to lie. It's a grim book. There aren't a lot of moments of true...more
Regardless of his sexual orientation, and my nonchalant approach towards contemporary literature; Cunningham is one of few contemporary writers that are able to write dexterously manipulative, terribly magnetic, and mind stimulating pieces of literature.
Instead of Virginia Woolf in The Hours, Cunningham u...more
Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and Specimen Days. His most recent novel is By Nightfall. He lives in New York.