Holly's Reviews > Specimen Days

Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham
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Jul 19, 10


Part Victorian ghost story, part urban thriller, part science fiction, Cunningham's "Specimen Days" (like "The Hours") is both an ode to Walt Whitman (vs Woolf in "The Hours") told in three parts spanning 300 years in New York City as well as the search for soul, meaning, stroth.

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 circularity. Simon, Luke, and Cathrine appear as the main characters in all three stories - as do Central Park, random horses, June 21, an urge to leave the city and return to nature, a mysterious white bowl.

This is a book about the transcendence of literature through time and demographics but at a cost (in a nod to "In the Penal Colony"?). Poetry attempts to fill a void in meaning, self, soul, purpose at great cost. In the first two stories, Whitman is the guiding force for both Luke characters; in the last Simon, a human-like machine, has Whitman hardwired into his system in an effort to simulate soul, possibly indicating instead of meaning a sinister parallel between poetry, Whitman, and machines. Excellent, perfect story.
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message 1: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Frankie Can you please tell me 3 ways that any two sections of this book both relate to a theme of Whitman from Song of Myself?3 ways that both the sections have in common, that relates to a theme of Whitman. Just having a little debate with a friend here. Any help?


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