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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The days crawl by on drunken legs... 
23rd-Jan-2006 05:29 pm
And life is good when I've no more immediate goals other than losing weight and clearing my book backlog. :P

Why is it that so many authors that I like have written so little? T_T Damn this guy for having only four in-print novels!

Cunningham, Michael. Flesh and Blood. 1995. New York: Scribner, 1996.
Summary: A family epic recounting the lives of three generations of the Stassos family, starting patriarch Constantine and his wife Mary, continuing on with their children Susan, Billy (or Will), and Zoe, and ending with the grandchildren Ben and Jamal.
Comments: Cunningham is a master of making what looks like nothing on the surface singularly profound--even though the Stassos are ANYTHING but the picture-perfect American immigrant family--and compulsively readable. Many of the themes and concerns from A Home at the End of the World carry over from that earlier novel, most notably Will, who might as well be Jonathan all over again. Fortunately, though, he lets his gay boy who grew up feminine and wanting to play with dolls live and be happy (married, actually) this time around, and they even get a son of sorts in the bargain after Zoe dies of AIDS. (Yes, the disease theme yet again, which tilts this, in my opinion, into the subgenre of gay fiction.) And, actually, Zoe is sort of another surrogate gay man on the "scene" of NYC in the 70's and 80's; she's promiscuous, friend of drag queens, vacuuming up recreational drugs with friends, etc. There is also the pain of the barren union here, but it's mostly expressed through Susan. What fascinates me most is how intolerance in this novel is systematically punished. Constantine never gets the perfect, upwardly mobile clan that he yearns for though he makes tons of money gouging successive waves of immigrants and is succeeded ultimately by Jamal, who is half-black; grandson Ben, who is ready to deny his homosexuality and relationship with Jamal drowns before he can say anything. Also, I was a bit surprised by how explicit the sex scenes were in this novel. Male physical attributes are described with tender loving care, often from the eyes of a woman (as usual, the author inhabits female characters better than male ones...though the men in this novel are the best-characterized I've seen thus far). Drag queen Cassandra was depicted in stereotypical broad strokes, but still still came across as very human, not to mention very funny. In any case, not every experiment Cunningham embarks upon in the course of this novel works, but when it does, it works gorgeously.
Notes: trade paperback, 12th printing
Rating: 8.5/10 - This is a must-read by EVERYONE author who writes oh so well that he does not get "niched" into the gay/lesbian fiction section of Borders, so hop to it already!
30th-Jan-2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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