Specimen DaysBook - 2005
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.
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