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Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown

(Crown Journeys Series)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  919 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
In this celebration of one of America's oldest towns (incorporated in 1720), Michael Cunningham, author of the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning The Hours, brings us Provincetown, one of the most idiosyncratic and extraordinary towns in the United States, perched on the sandy tip at the end of Cape Cod. Provincetown, eccentric, physically remote, and heartbreakingly bea ...more
Hardcover, Crown Journeys, 176 pages
Published August 6th 2002 by Crown
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Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-books
Most travel books are about going somewhere new and recording one’s experiences; this one is about staying home in a beloved place and good-naturedly welcoming visitors in for a tour. Cunningham, known for novels like The Hours, wrote this homage to Provincetown, Massachusetts 15 years ago as part of the Crown Journeys series. He recounts the wider history of the town as well as his personal history with it, and takes readers through the beach areas and the downtown, pointing out the best places ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
Cape Cod is on the North West fringe of America, and Provincetown is on the very edge of Cape Cod. This isolation means it is a place which has attracted those on the periphery of American society too; artists and writers have made their homes here, and hosts a large gay and lesbian community too.

The walk takes us around the town, down the two main streets, across the marshes and dunes, for a brief dip in the bay and then onto the beaches. With him we visit some of the bars and clubs, drops into
Pudds Downing
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book could have been wonderful. I love the poetry, the beauty of Michael Cunningham's writing. But the old nursery rhyme line, paraphrased, could apply here. "When he is good he is very, very good but when he is bad he is horrid." WhenI bought this book I really was not looking for a detailed description of the life of a promiscuous homosexual in Provincetown. Yuck, yuck and more yuck. Frankly, I don't care if you're gay, straight, bi or alien. I don't want to read about where, when, how or ...more
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book was more about Michael Cunningham than it was about Provincetown.
Mark Fallon
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a joy to read a book about a place you love by a gifted author who loves that place too.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
From the A-House to whales, Pulitzer Prize winner, Michael Cunningham captures all that is special about Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Michael Armijo
Nov 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
This is clearly the pressure of a renowned author being pressured to come out with another book quickly. It's like reading excerpts from his personal journal that have been thrown together. It starts out adjectively (and continues that way) with one getting to know the feeling of Provincetown. I have never been there and would like to go one day, but if I wanted a GUIDEBOOK of P-Town it would be more suitable. Then, as you read on you get glimpses of how the author met his boyfriend in P-Town an ...more
Tessa Campbell
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book will inspire anyone to take a trip to Provincetown, Massachussetts. Cunningham (also author of The Hours) takes readers by the hand and leads them on a magical tour of this quaint little beach town at the tip of Cape Cod. Provincetown has a rich history and has become a popular summer vacation destination worldwide, known for its arts, beaches, shopping and gourmet restaurants. It has a large gay community and hosts a wide array of people: tourists, writers, families, gay couples hand- ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great travelogue - sociological study hybrid. Quick read but it will literally make you rent a car and drive to the tip of Cape Cod within two weeks.
(Plus, odds are great that you'll see Michael somewhere on Commercial or at Mussel Beach.)
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
The only contemporary guide to this whimsical town that keeps drawing me back. This is at once bio and travel guide.
Liz Shine
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up on my own walk through Provincetown at a used bookstore. When I visit a place, I try to pick up a book of poems written in that place. In this case, I picked up Land's End, a word-tour through Provincetown. It functions as a sort of ode. Cunningham's writing is superb, rich in detail and heartfelt and funny comparisons. Some history, some sociology, some geography, all sewn up with tender moments of memoir.

Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Worth it for this commentary on gay beach culture alone: "I would be happy if the men how have sex in the salt marsh could be persuaded to wear fur leggings with hooves over their feet, attach little nubs of horns to their foreheads, and blow wistful tunes on pipes as they wander through the labyrinths of grass and water."
Maggie Allen
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I bought this book because I had just visited Provincetown and was fascinated by it. It's great for a quick read during or right after your trip but it seems like that is only where it should be read. It is well written but could have dove deeper into the place itself.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading this different kind of a travel guide. I think I better understand Provincetown after hearing about it from a regular visitor / part-time resident. Sounds great and I can’t wait to see it!
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful description of a magical place. I re-read it in the summer routinely.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
there are a handful of books i read once a year when the season to which they apply arrives. this one is so wonderful it just entered this group of books.
Ros Johnson
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a lesbian who has traveled to Provincetown every year at least once for about 35 years, Cunningham's familiarity with the locale and celebration of it was delightful to read.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a uniquely wonderful book to read about and while in P Town. Each descriptive sentence is perfect.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, places
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provincetown è una cittadina che sorge all'estremità di Cape Cod, nel Massachussetts, una lunga e incantata striscia di sabbia sulla East Coast degli Stati Uniti. Dopo avervi trascorso un solitario inverno, quando a ventotto anni si era imbarcato nella faticosa stesura di un romanzo, Michael Cunningham è tornato a Provincetown ogni anno, a trascorrervi le sue vacanze.
Niente da fare: con questo autore (premiato anche con il Pulitzer per Le ore) non è scattata la scintilla.
Scrive benissimo, ma ho
Evanston Public  Library
Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Cunningham (The Hours) tries his hand at travel writing in this brief exploration of Provincetown, Massachusetts. What makes this book different from most travel guides is that Cunningham has actually spent a great deal of time living in the place he’s chosen to write about, thereby allowing him to give an insider’s view of the town. Located, literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, perched at the outer tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is one of the oldes ...more
MrsGeary Geary
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book while staying in Provincetown and I absolutely loved it. It was better than any tour guide and was a treat for all my senses and sensibilities. Cunningham captures all the angles of the prism that is Provincetown: the light, the air, the art, the sand, the drag, the party, the ocean, the history, the sex, the freedom, the community, the refuge, the sadness, the joy. While he has a magical, evocative description of whales, he also writes of foxes (not the silver ones), opossums a ...more
Paula Dembeck
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great little book about this interesting town through the eyes of one of its residents. This intriguing town is a place of history and art, but also a refuge for those who need to seek refuge or escape.

The book is basically a walking tour of Provincetown, one of America’s older towns which is perched on the sandy tip at the end of Cape Cod. Eccentric and physically remote, the town has been intriguingly amenable to outsiders since it existed. Those who live unconventionally seem to outnumber t
Kyle  Tresnan
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm always surprised when it turns out I actually like these kinds of books.

Land's End isn't like most of the other books I read for my Cape Cod Adventure Literature class in that it's not about walking through wildernesses or living on a beach and watching birds. Land's End is about a city. It's about a city, and Micheal Cunningham gives Provincetown a lot of character. He loves Provincetown; he fell in love in Provincetown. It helps, I think, that I read most of this book after having been to
Jun 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
Although this book started & finished with a very descriptive walk-about in Provincetown_there were parts that were not agreeable to me.Yes,it was descriptive_too much so regarding SEX,having too much,where to find it,his sex life,other's sex life,sporting gentleman,who's doing whom,etc.The worst was a play by play of how he and other friends washed the corpse of a friend in the hospital_descriptive indeed,down to the color of his friend's genitalia!Really!

I purchased the book to bring back
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Michael Cunningham's tribute to Provincetown, more an essay than a book, contains the same beautiful writing found in his novels The Hours and Home at the End of the World. This piece of writing could be used as a tool to teach students how to write similes and metaphors beautifully.

Cunningham first went to Provincetown after receiving a fellowship to write there from October to May. No sooner had he arrived when the summer population headed home and the chilly weather of the fall and winter set
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, I didn't realize until I started the book that it's 10-years-old. That wouldn't matter in a novel, but this is more of a memoir/travel guide. Second, I wish I'd known about it before I'd been to Provincetown, which struck me as just a weird little touristy place at the end of Cape Cod, rather than the more magically quirky community Cunningham describes. Maybe P'town should have Cunningham take over its PR. Of course, they'd have to get him to tone down all the gay sex stuff, which was mo ...more
Debra Moffitt
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This short book is a never-boring character study of Provincetown and the people who choose to live and spend time there. Cunningham shares how life is or was (the book pubbed in 2002) for the gay community. He wrote this line about the evolution of retail shops, but it can be taken in a broader sense today. At one time, Provincetown supported three leather shops. But that was changing even in 2002, Cunningham writes. "...a certain general fantasy about outlaw status has been replaced by one of ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, october
A love letter to Provincetown. Michael Cunningham leads us gently, whimsically, wistfully through what is clearly one of his favorite places on earth. It is one of my favorite places on earth as well. If you love P-Town, you will find yourself smiling and nodding and chuckling and feeling a pang in your heart as he details the people, places, and ways of life that make Provincetown unique. I found myself wanting to teleport there as I turned this book's pages. If you must be separated from it ph ...more
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Anyone who has ever passionately loved a place should read this book. Although Cunningham writes about P-town, I easily could have replaced New Orleans and it would have perfectly described my feelings for my own city...Cunningham even calls it the "New Orleans of the North". Everyone who knows me knows that I have a special fondness for Cunningham and I have to confess that I have a burning desire to go to P-town and eat hotdogs with him on the 4th of July...although it is unlikely.
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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.

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“Martha’s Vineyard had fossil deposits one million centuries old. The northern reach of Cape Cod, however, on which my house sat, the land I inhabited—that long curving spit of shrub and dune that curves in upon itself in a spiral at the tip of the Cape—had only been formed by wind and sea over the last ten thousand years. That cannot amount to more than a night of geological time. Perhaps this is why Provincetown is so beautiful. Conceived at night (for one would swear it was created in the course of one dark storm) its sand flats still glistened in the dawn with the moist primeval innocence of land exposing itself to the sun for the first time. Decade after decade, artists came to paint the light of Provincetown, and comparisons were made to the lagoons of Venice and the marshes of Holland, but then the summer ended and most of the painters left, and the long dingy undergarment of the gray New England winter, gray as the spirit of my mood, came down to visit. One remembered then that the land was only ten thousand years old, and one’s ghosts had no roots. We did not have old Martha’s Vineyard’s fossil remains to subdue each spirit, no, there was nothing to domicile our specters who careened with the wind down the two long streets of our town which curved together around the bay like two spinsters on their promenade to church.   NORMAN MAILER, from Tough Guys Don’t Dance” 0 likes
“from Labor Day through Halloween, the place is almost unbearably beautiful. The air during these weeks seems less like ether and more like a semisolid, clear and yet dense somehow, as if it were filled with the finest imaginable golden pollen. The sky tends toward brilliant ice-blue, and every thing and being is invested with a soft, gold-ish glow. Tin cans look good in this light; discarded shopping bags do. I’m not poet enough to tell you what the salt marsh looks like at high tide. I confess that when I lived year-round in Provincetown, I tended to become irritable toward the end of October, when one supernal day after another seemed to imply that the only reasonable human act was to abandon your foolish errands and plans, go outside, and fall to your knees.” 0 likes
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