A WRITER'S WIT
We are most alive when we're in love.
Born March 18, 1932
I’ve now read everything Michael Cunningham has ever written, including several readings of The Hours, and I believe he may be a genius. A rare author it is who can create a world so airtight and yet breath-like, flexible, that it, itself, seems like a living thing. Rare it is that a contemporary author can compel me to sacrifice an entire morning to finishing a novel as if it were a conversation of the utmost importance.
In By Nightfall, a couple in their forties are forging a life for themselves in SoHo. Peter owns his own gallery, and is on the precipice of either making it big or falling into an acceptably mediocre state forever:
Get Groff (and really, would he blame Groff for going with a bigger gallery?) and he settles, quite possibly for good (he hasn’t been up and coming for almost a decade now), into a career of determined semidefeat, a champion of the overlooked and the almost-but-not-quite (228).
To give more of the plot would be to ruin the joys of this book. Cunningham is a master of structure, characterization, and storytelling. The chapters, themselves titled, become short stories, yet each chapter leads in a linked manner from one to the other. Cunningham has a way of realizing character by way of reflection. Although he’s a master of dialogue, as well, we often learn more through what seem like the meanderings of the characters’ minds. Their inner and outer expressions combine to form characters that are as real as our friends, our family members. Cunningham creates an overarching structure, in which the characters are one way in the beginning, we watch them metamorphose, and then at the end, we see them broken, like shards of pottery that have been dashed against the floor. With the last sentence of the book, however, we realize Peter and Rebecca going to put their lives back together. At least they’re going to try.
In an interview Cunningham once said that with each book he tries to challenge himself to something larger than the last time. At first, this seems like a smaller, quieter, novel, compared to his previous tomes, but I'm not so sure. With this one he manages to equal, at least, what he has written in the past. Only time will tell if it is better.
WEDNESDAY: PHOTOS OF YELLOW HOUSE CANYON