Review: By Nightfall — Michael Cunningham

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To Go: 1

Book List
91. Call Me Russell — Russell Peters
92.  The Golden Compass — Philip Pullman
93. Homeport — Nora Roberts
94. The Search — Nora Roberts
95. Beach House — R.L. Stine
96. The Nutcracker, retold by Mark A. Taylor
97. 11/22/63 — Stephen King
98. Riding Lessons — Sara Gruen
99. By Nightfall — Michael Cunningham

Peter and Rebecca Harris, midforties, are prosperous denizens of Manhattan. He’s an art dealer, she’s an editor. They live well. They have their troubles — their ebbing passions, their wayward daughter, and certain doubts about their careers — but they feel as though they’re happy. Happy enough. Until Rebecca’s much younger, look-alike brother, Ethan (known in the family as Mizzy, short for the Mistake), comes to visit. And after he arrives, nothing will ever be the same again.

Merry Christmas again! This one came to me as a present from my wonderful father (along with several others, which I am looking forward to reading in the new year).

There’s something about Michael Cunningham’s writing that makes his books almost incomprehensible, and thus, for a rookie like myself, somewhat unreviewable. I love them, but they are beyond me. You know those books that are about the mundanity of real life, until something absolutely crazy happens, and it throws a family out of whack? From what I’ve read of Cunningham, his books have that kind of theme, and it always trips me up. I want to read more into it, thus providing you all with a more meaningful book-talk, but have an impossible time doing so. (And yes, I’m hanging my head in shame right now.)

Regardless, I will press on. If there’s one thing I love about Michael Cunningham, its the realness of his characters (which I suppose you could see coming, given the plot I’ve just outlined). In this particular case, Peter Harris, whose eyes we see the story through, is, I think, made much more true-to-life through the point-of-view style. There’s a somewhat elimination of the fourth-wall in the way he rambles on, which is so much like how everyone thinks — addressing themselves as their own audience. It was an interesting contrast to the third-person narrative.

Also: you know those books that make you worry about growing up, because you might not get everything you want? This is one of those books. I have a grudging (if not fearful) admiration for its unflinching portrayal of life: full of stumbles and embarrassments, and not exactly what you hoped for. But if you’re lucky, you might get a second chance to fix it.

Next book: I have so many to choose from that I really just don’t know. All I know is that I better end my year on a good note!

Only one more book!

– Kelsey


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