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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
*pumps fist* First book of the year! 
2nd-Jan-2006 09:56 am
And it's...WHOA.

You know, having seen the film adaptation without reading the novel, I thought it was quite good. But, let's face it: The novel is hundreds of times better! So much, ESPECIALLY Clare's motivations for the things that she does, gets changed in the transition from medium to medium. A nuanced depiction of her fear of death and her child's exposure to it transitions into pop-feminist dissatisfaction about being the "housewife" to TWO men and jealousy over Bobby's intimacy with Jonathan. Urk.

Cunningham, Michael. A Home at the End of the World. 1990. New York: Picador, 2004.
Summary: Childhood friends Jonathan and Bobby join their older friend Clare in order to start a most non-traditional family and raise "their" daughter Rebecca in upstate New York. Amid looming shadows of AIDS and death, however, not to mention the inclusion of Jonathan's dying boyfriend, Clare gets scared that her daughter will end up knowing death and leaves the men behind in order to salvage what life they have left.
Comments: Oh. My. GOD. This novel was SO good, and I'm not even sure I can tell you why. Like the writing of only a handful of other authors that I've encountered in my lifetime, Cunningham has you by the throat in about ten pages and doesn't let go. Unlike The Hours, however, which he is most famous for, A Home at the End of the World features prose that is readily accessible to the average reader and is not as openly experimental. Also, the novel, though it is many pages longer, feels, well, more intimate somehow, less ambitious in scope. If Specimen Days was Cunningham's word in genre fiction, this earlier work is his contribution to gay fiction. Though you won't find it in the "gay literature" section in Borders, it reads (and I don't care whether you define the term by author, audience, subject matter, or some combination of the three) like quintessential, modern gay fiction. Themes of identity, of equality, of life versus death, of love, of disease, fill the story. The ending, neither happy nor sad but rather resigned to make do, strikes me as the work of a writer going through some very tumultuous times. I wonder if his friends/lovers were dying. T_T Perhaps. As usual, the best characters in Cunningham's novel are female, and he even gives Jonathan's mother plenty of page time. Bobby is also fascinating, especially since you get the sense that he is, in many ways, an androgyne who doesn't fit into pat notions of gender or sexuality. He is, essentially, a vessel for the wishes of others, though he views is own existence as between life and the successive deaths of his family. No wonder Clare didn't want that for her child. A gorgeous novel that will sustain multiple rereadings and many academic writers.
Notes: trade paperback, movie tie-in
Rating: 9/10 - I'm half-afraid to give this book TOO high a rating...after all, who knows what things may come later! But, regardless, this is going to be one of the best books read in 2006. I just know it.
30th-Jan-2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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