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By Nightfall

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  6,064 ratings  ·  1,031 reviews
Peter and Rebecca Harris: mid-forties denizens of Manhattan’s SoHo, nearing the apogee of committed careers in the arts—he a dealer, she an editor. With a spacious loft, a college-age daughter in Boston, and lively friends, they are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebecca’s much younger look-alike brother, Ethan (kn ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2010)
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Richard Kramer
Elegant, sexy, achingly familiar to the point that I had to put it down and say: He knows me. Is that really me?
What's it about? It's about how when you're young you long for and fear life at the same moment; when you're not young you regard the young, as happens here, and long for life and fear that your life has been spent. And then, finally, you learn to look away. The book is over before you know it, but it rides with you, next to you, on the subway, in the bus, in the elevator to your apart
Most of this book takes place in Peter Harris's head, and not much "action" happens. So, I could see how a lot of people would get turned off by this book, and I'll admit that for most of it, I wasn't quite sure where it was heading or what the point of it was. On the surface, it might seem difficult to sympathize with this man who's problems include, but aren't limited to, that he finds his wife not as beautiful as she used to be, his college-age daughter isn't as brilliant or interesting as he ...more
Ally Armistead
Just finished reading Michael Cunningham's "By Nightfall," and I'm, well, underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong: Cunningham is a freaking amazing writer--a sentence-crafter that will make you sit up straight and say "holy crap; how does he think of these things?" But overall, as far as the story of Peter Harris is concerned, I am left with the taste of "meh" in my mouth. And damnit, I'm trying to figure out why. Part of it may have to do with the difficulty (MY difficulty) of finding empathy for the ...more
I know a book is brilliant when after I finish it a voice in my chest says, "Yes, I will read this again one day." This has happened with every book by Michael Cunningham I have read. 'A Home at the End of the World', 'The Hours', 'Flesh & Blood', and now 'By Nightfall.'

By Nightfall is a wonderful book, a beautiful book about art, New York, money, family, death. If you give yourself to it, you will find the doors of your perception cleansed. That is how we are able to experience beauty. To m
I loved this book, though I don't know that anyone else will. Very little happens, the narrator could be accused of being whiny, and the narration itself is at times over wrought. The tone is highly literary, and Cunningham frequently alludes to Joyce's Ulysses, Fitzgerald's Gatsby, Mann's Death in Venice, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, and the real-life doomed affair of Rimbaud and Veralaine.

It reminded me of an Ian McEwan (swoon) novel in its slow inexorable pace, its plot deliciously filled out b
Catherine B.
I found this to be a very s-l-o-w read. The narrator of the book is unlikeable to me and too whiny for my taste. I could not bring myself to feel for the characters of the book. The ending was so anti-climatic, just go about your business.

This is not Cunninghma's best work.
There must be a time when you have craved a combination of words that simply did not exist. You look for them -- in songs, in books, in blurbs here and there, and movie dialogue. It becomes exhausting. Frustrating, maybe even lonely. Flipping through more words, more quickly, and no one is saying the goddamn two sentence goose bump inducer that needs to be invented for this exact place in space You'd write it if you could, but if you could write it you probably wouldn't need it. If you could wri ...more
John Arfwedson
Here's the question Michael Cunningham needed to ask of his protagonist, Peter Harris, before starting this novel: if you had to do it all over again, would you still fall in love with yourself?

Peter, a study in self-absorption to the point of solipsism, is obsessed with himself and his malaise but in an intensely undramatic, uninteresting way. Part of this is conceptual. If you're going to write about the howling cliche of a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis, he had better be deep
Michael Cunningham can write the sh*t out of some books. If I could, I would have put this at 4.5 stars, but I can't so I'm rounding up. I blazed through this very quickly. Which is actually a shame with Cuninngham's work because he is such a smart writer and I know I'm missing a lot of what he's up to from a literary standpoint. But his knack for characters and dialogue catches me every time and I just have to know what happens to these people.

I've skimmed a couple of other reviewers who didn'
I actually wrote this review out on paper first. I wanted to make sure I got this review right.

Before I read By Nightfall, I had never read a Cuningham novel. Little did I realize, I was in for a surprise.

When I read the premise for By Nightfall, I have to admit, I wasn't jumping up and down with excitement. It sounded intriguing enough, and I knew Michael Cunningham was, or is, pretty well-known, so, I decided to give it a shot. I am glad I did.

We meet a couple in their forties, Peter and Re
“By Nightfall” Michael Cunningham. 2/5/12

The best book I’ve read since—Mario Vargas Llosa’s “The Feast of the Goat.” Really? Two masterpieces within a month? Karma is doing me a favor; Fortuna’s wheel, in my case, travels heavenward.

Wow. “By Nightfall.” Wow. I had truly forgotten about Cunningham, though I list him as my favorites, and now it is crystal clear why. I was uber-impressed by “Specimen Days,” a book the literati have literally forgotten. That was an exercise in genre mixing, of wild
Greg Zimmerman
Midway through Michael Cunnigham's slim new novel, By Nightfall, a character describes a rich woman's expensively decorated living room as " magnificent it transcends its own pretensions." That's also a good description for what Cunningham must've hoped his novel would be. But since it's not exactly magnificent, we're pretty much left with just pretentious. And the novel, though well-crafted, sure is that.

But the novel failed for another reason, too: Its protagonist is an utter dolt. Far be
Bill Krieger
This is a story about malaise. And whining. It's the malaise that accompanies privilege and success and middle age too, I guess. It's a very whiny story about a whiny guy. The main character is a successful art dealer in Manhattan. He's middle age and yet still brimming with teen angst. Most of the characters in the book are completely self-absorbed. Blech.

I thought Cunningham's writing style was OK. The book was a light and fast read, and the ending was not bad. But it's a tough slog when you h
I was so excited for the new Michael Cunningham. I thought The Hours, A Home at the End of the World, and Specimen Days were all wonderful. By Nightfall has the same beautiful prose, but it lacks many elements that make the others great.

For one, the characters just aren't that likable. In every other one of his novels, I could find something to relate to or sympathize with in every man, woman, gay, straight, young, old, contemporary, historic person. In By Nightfall, I found Peter to be pathetic
Lars Guthrie
Fiction is about finding truth in imagination. That gives writers license to occupy someone else’s time or milieu, to be whom they are not—another class, another gender, another race.

The test is readers’ belief. Characters have to be real. They must do what they do because of what they are, rather than doing what the writer wants to prove he can make them do.

Perhaps Michael Cunningham felt that a challenging test of his ability to make his readers believe was to write about a straight man sudde
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

This is my first novel by the much-loved Michael Cunningham, although I'm already familiar with the plot of his Pulitzer-winning The Hours (which will be getting reviewed itself later this year, as part of the "CCLaP 100" essay series), and I also once had a chance when younger to read the first 50 pages o
Oh, yay: another novel about a rich white dude who works in Manhattan’s art world! I’ve never read any other literary fiction like this!

(Heavy sarcasm.)

The rich white dude in question is Peter, a (happily?) married man who is thrown off-kilter by a visit from his wife’s beautiful, (recovering?) drug addict brother, Mizzy. Dot dot dot. (No spoilers, but this is Cunningham – of course there’s tortured gay love!)

There are elements of a good story here, and Cunningham’s beautiful prose is in full ef
"La maggior parte della gente è convinta di non essere come la maggior parte della gente."

Mi stupisce e un po' mi addolora scoprire così tanti giudizi tendenti al negativo sulla nuova fatica letteraria di Cunningham. Certo, ormai siamo ben lontani da quel gran capolavoro che fu Le Ore, e tutti i supposti grandi scrittori riescono difficilmente a sopravvivere ai loro capolavori. Eppure, rivendico la mia posizione fuori dal coro, e sono pronto a difendere questo romanzo che, seppur distante annilu
(Update, 4/2/13: reading Elaine Scarry's On Beauty and Being Just, in which she urges that not only does beauty not distract us from justice, but leads us to embrace it -- she writes, "anyone who sets out in the morning to defend beauty will surely by nightfall have arrived at the strategy of claiming that beauty assists justice," and I think that Cunningham's book acts out a number of premises embedded in her theory of aesthetics -- the search for beauty here distracts Peter from the good, but ...more
Michael Cunningham: count on this guy to rip your heart out every damn time. This might be my favorite yet. Kept me up all night on Christmas after the biggest, sleepiest-to-digest meal in recent memory because I just couldn't put it down.

What is there to say? His prose is absolutely delicious, maybe even more so in a novel where Cunningham isn't vying for rhetorical space with one of the many poets in his homage-based pieces. Of course it's always Cunningham, in every book, but this one leaves
Michael Cunningham can sure turn a phrase. In his hands, the most self-involved of ideas –that of an fairly privileged Manhattan gallery owner coming to grips with aging and mortality – can read like pure poetry. Take a moment early in the book, a moment when protagonist Peter Harris goes with a business associate Bette to visit a display at the Whitney Museum. Peter is just starting to acknowledge his middle ages, and he knows Bette is quitting the business because the 60-something has breast c ...more
Emily Yelencich
As usual, Michael Cunningham delivers a beautiful representation of poignant human character. By Nightfall lands in the category of somewhat self-involved upper-middle class angst that I've been reading so much of lately. Cunningham walks a finer line than the others (like On Beauty, or Freedom), never quite giving way to complete degeneration, making it more relatable and potentially more haunting.

I particularly liked the emphasis on Peter Harris' struggle with youth aging. Through the charact
It would be difficult for anything to compare to Michael Cunningham’s utterly beautiful Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Hours, but his latest offering has that same dark and poignant charm, and is equally, if not more so, compelling.

By Nightfall is about finding beauty and desire in surprising places – and what happens when that desire is focused on objects that don’t deserve it. The story is narrated by Peter Harris, a gallery-owner stuck in a quiet sort of midlife crisis. He goes about his da
This was a difficult book to read. Cunningham is such a wonderful writer that I would probably read his grocery store lists if he published them but ... this was painful. The portrait of a middle-aged man who has everything except....passion......there were points at which it almost listed into boredom. Who cares about this man and his wife ...who, in answer to the question, Are you comfortable? Could indeed respond, "I make a living," but who cannot really be said to be living. But......Cunning ...more
Brenda Wegner
I read this book for book club, so I stuck with it even though I typically dislike stories like this. Here's a guy who is getting older, but he has a great career, great loft, cool clothes, and beautiful wife who has an equally challenging and interesting career and yet manages to make dinner. . .including chocolate mousse.

Oh, but he has such problems. Life is passing him by. People he knows and loves have died. His wife is getting older. Young people look so deliciously, young. He may die and
HOORAY, the new Michael Cunningham is finally out!!! God, I've waited a long time for this. Trying not to gobble it down... So beautifully written. The guy is so precise, so understanding of the flawed human being, I could weep for the pleasure of this.
After Nightfall was everything I was hoping for in a Michael Cunningham novel. a keen but sensitive observation of adult life in America in the contemporary moment. One day in the life of a fortyish art dealer
James Murphy
Michael Cunningham is one of the more accomplished novelists of our day. He's a master of literary illusion, allusion. I've learned that reading a Cunningham novel is to take a literary journey. I read By Nightfall with that understanding and those expectations.

The Hours famously rewrites Mrs Dalloway in our time while bringing Virginia Woolf to life. Specimen Days, we were told, was laced with Walt Whitman quotes, but reading the novel one discovers that Cunningham has written in its three nove
Keep your Franzen, I have my Cunningham! Of course I haven't read Freedom yet, but all that media attention that it has got really stepped on my nerves. :D

By Nightfall makes me regret having read some of Cunningham's previous novels in translation only - traduttore, traditore - not that the books were poorly translated but I was deprived of one of the most simple yet most fulfilling pleasures of reading ever: reading an author's own words and thoughts. So now I'm seriously considering rereading

By Nightfall, tells the story of Peter and Rebecca Harris, a middle-age Manhattan couple, married twenty-one years, living a comfortable life in an upscale SoHo loft. The couple has a strained relationship with their only child, a daughter, who has dropped out of college, and works as a bartender. Early on the reader knows that an unexpected guest,who is coming for a visit is going to cause chaos for the Harris family. In this case, it is Rebecca's much younger brother Ethan Taylor, known as Miz
K2 -----
A friend mentioned this book to me and I was excited to read it as I have read many of Cunningham's other books.

I was disappointed. Overall felt it should have been a short story. There simply wasn't enough "there" there and although this was a theme in the book. It's not a book the shell out for in hardcover and I kept reading hoping it would redeem itself.

Peter, is a middle aged art dealer married to Rebecca, an editor, who live in NYC. Their daughter has recently dropped out of college to w
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this is what AmazonUK says of this book 3 55 Nov 03, 2013 01:32AM  
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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 & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. His new novel, The Snow Queen, will be published in May of 2014. He lives in New York, and teaches at Yale University.
More about Michael Cunningham...
The Hours A Home at the End of the World Specimen Days Flesh And Blood The Snow Queen

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