Specimen Days

Specimen Days

Book - 2005
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IN ONE OF the most anticipated novels of the year, Michael Cunningham delivers a bold new story. The author of the enormously successful The Hours and A Home at the End of the World brings us three brilliant linked narratives, each set in the ever-mysterious, ever-changing and ever-turbulent city of New York.

    Cunningham populates each section of his stunning narrative with the same characters: a young boy, an older man and a young woman. "In the Machine" is a ghost story that takes place at the height of the Industrial Revolution, as human beings confront the alienated realities of the new machine age. "The Children's Crusade," set in the early twenty-first century, plays with the conventions of the noir thriller as it tracks the pursuit of a terrorist band that is detonating bombs seemingly at random throughout the city. The third part of the novel, "Like Beauty," evokes a New York 10 years into the future, when the great city is all but overwhelmed by refugees from the first inhabited planet to be contacted by the people of Earth.

    Presiding over each episode of this interrelated whole is the prophetic figure of the poet Walt Whitman, who promises his future readers, "It avails not, neither distance nor place...I am with you, and know how it is." Specimen Days is a genre-bending, haunting and transformative ode to life in one of our greatest cities - a work of surpassing power and beauty by one of the most original and daring writers at work today.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, 2005.
ISBN: 9780002005593
Branch Call Number: CUN
Characteristics: x, 308 p.


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WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 22, 2013

Like Cunningham’s award winning novel The Hours, this tale features three characters: a malformed Whitman-quoting boy, a disillusioned woman, and a generous young man. The trio appears in each section of this triptych, one part historical fiction, one part post 9/11 police thriller, and one part futurist science fiction. Walt Whitman plays the roles of muse, prophet, and a character in this inventive novel about humanity, progress, nature and social decline.

Dec 20, 2011

This a fantastic book. It only makes sense if you put some time and thought into it, though, but trust me--it makes so much sense. You need to leave some time to digest because so many details connect after a bit of thought.
The novel concludes on a hopeful note. My interpretation of Cunningham's work is that, in the future, emotional and perceptual boundaries will no longer exist, taking away the problems that come with these boundaries, such as emotional detachment/lack of emotional expression and racism. Really, I think this book is about what it means to be human (is it the soul?), and how our concept of humanity may hopefully evolve. It's such a good book--read it!!!

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Dec 20, 2011

kendra88 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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