Friday, January 12, 2007

Specimen Days

I finished reading a book. I haven't finished a whole book in many, many months due to reasons I won't go into here. Let's just say I used to finish a book per week (or at least per month). So, I will divert from knitting for this post because I think the occasion calls for it.

This book only took me a couple weeks to read: Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham. This is the third book I've read by this author.

The first, The Hours, won a Pulitzer prize. I have read it at least four times, although not in a couple years. It is one of the best books I have ever read and definitely deserves such a prestigious award. The movie, unlike most, actually does the book justice. Don't get me wrong, the book was far better, but the movie is a great one, and the Phillip Glass score makes it all the better.

The second, A Home at the End of the World, was disappointing (and the movie was terrible).

I have had this book sitting in my bookshelf for quite a while because of the lack of opening a book in so many months (not counting knitting books, of course, and no, this isn't why I haven't read fiction in so long).

Specimen Days is not in the league of The Hours, but it is great if you can handle the third part. It will be obvious why I say "if you can handle the third part" in a moment. I was afraid that The Hours was a fluke until I read Specimen Days. The three parts of this book are unrelated on the surface. The first, set about 100 years ago is about a boy who "hears" his dead brother in machines. The second part is set in the present and is about terrorism and cults.

The third part is set about 100 years from now. This is the strangest part, mainly because I cannot personally imagine a world such as is described in
only 100 years from now, and is therefore unrealistic to me, much more than your average science fiction. However, it is imaginative, to say the least. It involves a whole new race on earth that basically looks reptilian, yet acts human.

The interesting thing about this novel is that all the parts are related in some way. I won't say interconnected, as The Hours was, but definitely related. A man, woman, and boy reappear in each part with the same names in each. A bowl is purchased. The setting is a changing New York City. A building is burned and remembered. A poet's words are recited.

Without a doubt, I need to read this book again. Now that I know the whole story, I need to go back and look for more relations, or connections, or find if there are
interconnections, such as in The Hours.

Sorry for the diversion. If you need a knitting break, read this book... or The Hours... or Anthem... or Blindness...

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