Specimen Days: A Novel

Front Cover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 1, 2007 - Fiction - 320 pages

In each section of Michael Cunningham's bold new novel, his first since The Hours, we encounter the same group of 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 alienating 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, around the city. The third part, "Like Beauty," evokes a New York 150 years into the future, when the 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 promised his future readers, "It avails not, neither time or place . . . I am with you, and know how it is." Specimen Days is a genre-bending, haunting, and transformative ode to life in our greatest city and a meditation on the direction and meaning of America's destiny. It is a work of surpassing power and beauty by one of the most original and daring writers at work today.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
8
4 stars
6
3 stars
4
2 stars
2
1 star
1

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - idyll - LibraryThing

Three novellas, hooked together by a seemingly random grab bag of recurring names, objects and Turette-like spouting of Walt Whitman. The first piece is riveting, the second is OK and the third unfortunately, just doesn't work. Readable, but misses greatness. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - anneearney - LibraryThing

Not my favorite by Cunningham. The first story really turned me off - i nearly gave up, but I knew I would have wondered about the others for a long time if I had, so I stuck it out. The second and ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
5
Section 2
9
Section 3
21
Section 4
25
Section 5
27
Section 6
37
Section 7
41
Section 8
52
Section 22
153
Section 23
156
Section 24
161
Section 25
170
Section 26
177
Section 27
181
Section 28
188
Section 29
192

Section 9
57
Section 10
58
Section 11
60
Section 12
61
Section 13
67
Section 14
73
Section 15
117
Section 16
125
Section 17
138
Section 18
141
Section 19
145
Section 20
149
Section 21
152
Section 30
229
Section 31
254
Section 32
276
Section 33
289
Section 34
294
Section 35
297
Section 36
299
Section 37
305
Section 38
313
Section 39
327
Section 40
328
Section 41
333
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Michael Cunningham was raised in Los Angeles and lives in New York City. He is the author of the novels The Hours, A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, and By Nightfall. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories, and he is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for The Hours, which was a New York Times bestseller, and was chosen as a Best Book of 1998 by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Publishers Weekly. He is a Professor at Brooklyn College for the M.F.A program.

Bibliographic information