Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham

Specimen Days

Michael Cunningham

Three apparently disparate novellas, set in past, present and future New York. They are in fact linked by recurring characters, situations and objects, and by the poetry of Walt Whitman. I wasn't entirely convinced that they form a unified whole. The jumps between time and genre are quite shocking, and I found the rather abstract connections were not really enough to pull the three narratives together. However, individually, they are well-crafted and intriguing stories, and they will appeal to anyone who enjoys quality writing.

Extract

He stood staring at the constellations. Walt had sent him here, to find this, and he understood. He thought he understood. This was his heaven. It was not Broadway or the horse on wheels. It was grass and silence; it was a field of stars. It was what the book had told him, night after night. When he died he would leave his defective body and turn into grass.

Parallels
  • Where 3 Roads Meet by John Barth
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood