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Book by Cunningham Michael

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Amazon.com: 142 commentaires
176 internautes sur 184 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"..." 10 juin 2003
Par Eric J. Matluck - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I haven't got the words to describe what this book did to me. I wept and bled over its 343 increasingly magnificent pages only to be left in a state of such disorientation that I'm not sure I can write coherently (and certainly not objectively) about it. Yet I'm determined to explain some things, so here goes.
This story is not, I think, so much about two boys' (and, eventually, two men's) search for love as it is about one boy's (Bobby's) search for love and one boy's (Jonathan's) search for how to love. The two are brought together, more by instinct than fate, on their first day of junior high school. Bobby, the less excitable if less conventionally "disciplined" of the two, brings with him a tragic past: he had recently lost his beloved brother to a freak accident, and his mother, a few years later, to suicide. Jonathan is the only child of loving but repressed parents; each, therefore, has something the other craves. At an early point in their friendship, Jonathan, acting rashly, almost gets killed in an accident that brings home to Bobby the loss of his brother. I can think of no more beautiful passage in recent literature than the one that describes Bobby's reaction while helping his friend home, swearing at him in a rage (notably Bobby's only outburst in the book) while holding Jonathan to him tighter and tighter. Thus does Bobby establish Jonathan, in his mind, as his surrogate brother, which allows him to fall in love with his friend without (at this point) having to admit to his sexuality.
As time passes the two begin to inhabit each other's skin (both figuratively and literally), and when Jonathan finally leaves for college in New York, Bobby moves in with Jonathan's parents. In New York, Jonathan meets his "half-lovers" Clare, with whom he ends up living, and a bartender named Erich. He is committed to Clare emotionally but not sexually and to Erich sexually but not emotionally. Then Bobby moves in with them and, after a brief idyll, Bobby starts sleeping with Clare, at which point Jonathan feels pushed out ("triangulated"). Feeling no emotional connection to Erich, and now seemingly alienated from his "true loves," Jonathan turns to the seeming sanctuary of his family, but even there he cannot manage to connect. In the most beautiful and perfect line in the book, Jonathan reflects, "For a moment I could imagine what it would be like to be a ghost-to walk forever through a silence deeper than silence, to apprehend but never quite reach the lights of home."
Rather than self-absorbed, these characters are self-aware, but just to a point. The tragedy is not that they constantly put stumbling blocks in their own paths, but that they know enough to realize what they're doing, yet not enough to realize how to stop.
When another tragedy brings Jonathan, Bobby, and Clare back together, it seems that, with time, they finally will all learn to love each other and start "a new kind of family." Even the less cynical among us could accurately predict that they don't, but the last 85 pages of the book, in which allegiances among the three shift moment by moment, are among the novel's finest, a winnowing out process through which some relationships are finally broken and others cemented, but always with the feel of unerring rightness.
Unfairly, almost any description of this book is bound to make it seem full of contrivance and improbable coincidence. In fact, it is the author's genius to set up a background of absolute inevitability in the characters' lives, in which every action is linked to every other, and to contrast this with the inability of the characters to see those links and make those connections, within their lives, with each other, and, ultimately, with themselves. So even the reintroduction, toward the end, of Jonathan's old lover Erich, who is now dying of AIDS, is not a melodramatic ploy but an essential plot component whereby Clare comes to see her true role in the lives of the men around her, the reader is left in no doubt about Bobby's sometimes equivocal-seeming sexual identity (the nighttime encounter between Bobby and Erich is both surprising and utterly in keeping with Bobby's character), and brings to the fore Jonathan's sense of pervasive guilt (among other things, his guilt over still not loving Erich even though the latter is dying), which leads, ultimately, to Jonathan's epiphany in the final chapter: an ending both radiant and resplendent that, in hands less "cunning" than Michael Cunningham's, might have seemed like a deus-ex-machina but here caps the story of one man's quest to feel.
Obviously, this book will not affect everyone the way it did me. A few years before he died at the age of 91, Somerset Maugham was asked by a critic why, having poured his entire life into Of Human Bondage, he was never able to write another book of equal worth, to which Maugham replied, "Because I had only one life." This book made me feel as though someone had been observing my one life for the past 43 years and turned it into a novel. But since it was someone else who wrote it, there will be others who will read it, weep and bleed over it, and come away from it appreciating their own lives in ways they never thought possible. You don't have to be gay to appreciate this very great book, but I would think it helps. Pride is stamped all over its pages.
62 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Engrossing, satisfying, deeply imagined 4 mars 2000
Par Petsounds - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The friend who recommended this book to me called it "a perfect novel." I was skeptical, especially when I read the plot synopsis on the back cover--it sounded trendy and just 'way too 90s for me. But lucky for me, I trusted my friend, so I got to live for awhile in the wonderful world that Michael Cunningham has created.
First, the writing is simply magnificent; I don't think there's a weak or false sentence anywhere in the book. This is rare prose--lyrical and restrained. Second, I think that Cunningham knows every one of his characters inside out--he knows more than he tells us--because these people are utterly real and convincing. This book is packed with beautiful insights into the human condition, but they are completely embodied in the characters. Finally, the story is vividly and compellingly told--you'll stay with it to the satisfying end.
As to the controversy over the various voices, I agree with the previous reviewer.
My friend said this is a perfect novel. I agree. How often do you get to say that?
57 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Outstanding Literature! 13 juin 2000
Par JCB - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD introduced me to Michael Cunningham--someone who I now consider one of my favorite contemporary authors. He manages to write honestly about friendship, love, sexuality, and life; and even though the story is told in different voices, there's hardly a break in the narrative--the novel flows beautifully and keeps readers turning pages; Cunningham is a master of words. I found Jonathon's friendship with Bobby very compelling. In fact, the chapters in Part I of the novel are, I think, the best chapters; they reveal the innocence of youth between Jonathon and Bobby and captures their friendship so beautifully. I liked this book a lot because I found it easy to relate to many of the events and experiences in Jonathon and Bobby's life. It was like reading a mirror image of my own life. Novels that are able to draw up those memories and connections in readers are the best ones. One reading of this novel isn't enough; it's a novel to be read over and over again.
17 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Very Intimate Work 1 avril 2005
Par S.G. London - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
For a person who hardly ever reads books due to the fact that I have very particular and specific tastes, I come to find that most books I do read are unsatisfying and dull. Shortly after watching the impressive, "The Hours", I was interested in the works of Michael Cunningham. No, I never read "The Hours". I love the film too much and I'm scared I won't like it. Moving on, I picked up "A Home at the End of the World" and began reading it. I found myself staying up late and filling my spare time with reading. By the end I felt something I hardly feel when it comes to reading most books; a strong emotional satisfaction.

The book is told by four people: Johnathan, Bobby, Claire, and Alice (Johnathan's mother). It spans through Johnathan and Bobby's childhood in the 60s through their adulthood in the 80s. Cunningham does a masterful job writing these charaters to the fullest. You'd swear you've seen and met these people before. The ideas of Love and Family are put to a test. Jealousy and Loss also make their way into a story so well written and constructed. It can make you laugh and yes, cry. Take the time and read this. Please.
14 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Wonderful, beautiful, moving novel 31 juillet 2003
Par Robert Elgie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Towards the end of this wonderful novel, Alice, mother of one of the main characters, remarks that she stayed with her feckless husband for decades because she couldn't imagine a life without her plates stacked in the corner cupboard of her kitchen. It's the little daily things that trammel us, she means, that prevent our flying free.
What Michael Cunningham accomplishes in this book is to show how much of our lives falls into that gap between our dreams and our reality. And being the writer he is, he does this deftly and subtly. This, Cunningham's first novel (or his second, if you count "Golden States", which Cunningham apparently does not), has the insight that makes "The Hours" so brilliant but not yet that book's layered complexity.
It's a beautiful read, though. Some chapters take my breath away because I am so impressed by the truth of the interactions between the characters and by Cunningham's command of his language. The prose is not flashy; there are few clever images; there are no prose-poem descriptions. But when I reach the end of a chapter, I realize that I've been moved by the words without being aware of them. Writing like that only looks easy. It's very, very hard to do.
Each chapter is told in the voice one of the characters. My only quibble with the novel, then, is that, while the points of view are distinct, the voices are not much differentiated. So, it was Cunningham's first successful novel, and he was still learning. Big deal. "A Home at the End of the World" still stands out way ahead of most.
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