Flesh and Blood
In Flesh and Blood, Michael Cunningham takes us on a masterful journey through four generations of the Stassos family as he examines the dynamics of a family struggling to "come of age" in the 20th century. In 1950, Constantine Stassos, a Greek immigrant laborer, marries Mary Cuccio, an Italian-American girl, and together they produce three children: Susan, an ambitious beauty, Billy, a brilliant homosexual, and Zoe, a wild child. Over the years, a web of tangled longings, love, inadequacies and unfulfilled dreams unfolds as Mary and Constantine's marriage fails and Susan, Billy, and Zoe leave to make families of their own. Zoe raises a child with the help of a transvestite, Billy makes a life with another man, and Susan raises a son conceived in secret, each extending the meaning of family and love. With the power of a Greek tragedy, the story builds to a heartbreaking crescendo, allowing a glimpse into contemporary life which will echo in one's heart for years to come.
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Alack! I was ready to believe Michael Cunningham could take on any subject and render it ecstatically beautiful with the sheer power of his prose, but I'm afraid that an "epic saga of three generations" couldn't quite do it for me. I suspect it's because his signature ability to render his characters' inner lives so crystalline, complex and convincing that one becomes intimate with them was attenuated in a novel that spans 100 years and many family members. With just one or two protagonists I could become intimate with, even tender about their conflictedness, their poor choices, or downright unlikeability. In this novel there were just too many viewpoints to identify with; the overall effect was somewhat suffocating -- a conclusion almost literally enacted within the plot, when he suddenly drowned one of the characters just as I was thinking I had gotten to the point where I couldn't tolerate one more minute inside that particular one's head. Back to the small and beautiful, no more sprawling, please!
Review: Flesh And BloodUser Review - Janice Elgort dubroff - Goodreads
Read it for the writing, the luscious poetic, sensorial writing! The story is moving as well. The writing might lead you to expect something sentimental, but Cunningham is not squeamish or sentimental ... Read full review