stephanie's Reviews > Specimen Days

Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham
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Jun 16, 07

bookshelves: contemporaryfiction, would-never-rec, historical-fiction
Read in January, 2005

i was SO looking forward to this book, it's kind of ridiculous. i mean, i own the first edition copy, because i BOUGHT it right then.

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 whitman (who makes an appearance in the first section, least you think i'm reaching too far). there's whitman's poetry, this china cup, and something else that i forget. the first story is set in whitman's new york, the second is set in early twenty-first century new york, and the third is manhattan, 150 years in the future. the first part is tolerable, the second part is eerily believable given our government, but feels extremely heavy-handed and disconcerting in a not-good way, and the third piece is just utterly, utterly bizarre.

then the whole thing ends, and you aren't left with a shred of hope. the lesson i learned from this book was - the world is spiraling into decay and has been since we started relying on machines, and there's not a single fucking thing we can do about it. we just die.

normally, i love shit like that. this? this was poorly executed, relied on gimmicks he'd already used, and was just depressing. i mean, i can't think of anything good to say about it, except that i obviously remember it and have an opinion about it, so, yay?
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Comments (showing 1-3)




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Alicia B. I could not agree with you more!


message 2: by Bridget (new)

Bridget I agree. An utterly depressing read.


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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