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Specimen Days (Anglais) Relié – 6 juin 2005


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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

IN ONE OF the most anticipated novels of the year, Michael Cunningham delivers a bold new story. The author of the enormously successful The Hours and A Home at the End of the World brings us three brilliant linked narratives, each set in the ever-mysterious, ever-changing and ever-turbulent city of New York.

    Cunningham populates each section of his stunning narrative with the same characters: a young boy, an older man and a young woman. "In the Machine" is a ghost story that takes place at the height of the Industrial Revolution, as human beings confront the alienated realities of the new machine age. "The Children's Crusade," set in the early twenty-first century, plays with the conventions of the noir thriller as it tracks the pursuit of a terrorist band that is detonating bombs seemingly at random throughout the city. The third part of the novel, "Like Beauty," evokes a New York 10 years into the future, when the great city is all but overwhelmed by refugees from the first inhabited planet to be contacted by the people of Earth.

    Presiding over each episode of this interrelated whole is the prophetic figure of the poet Walt Whitman, who promises his future readers, "It avails not, neither distance nor place...I am with you, and know how it is." Specimen Days is a genre-bending, haunting and transformative ode to life in one of our greatest cities - a work of surpassing power and beauty by one of the most original and daring writers at work today.

Biographie de l'auteur

MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (which won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award) and Specimen Days. He lives in New York. Visit him online at www.michaelcunninghamwriter.com.




Détails sur le produit

  • Relié
  • Editeur : HarperCollins Publishers; Édition : First Printing (6 juin 2005)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 000200559X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002005593
  • Dimensions du produit: 15,9 x 2,3 x 23,6 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par E. T. M. Berg le 17 septembre 2011
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This book was recommended in another one in such a way that I thought 'I should read that' and that's why I bought it. The book consists of three parts, one in the past, one in the present time and one in a far away future. In all three parts the same people - a man, a woman and a disfigured boy - appear in various roles plus the same object, a bowl (I have not figured out what it stands for!) and the poet Walt Whitman plays an important part in all three.
I found it pretty difficult matter, but I finished it and I kept it (which means I may take it up again) and that says a lot. Interesting is the best word for me to describe this work.
I have - by the way - no idea why the horse features on the cover of the book!
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Amazon.com: 102 commentaires
127 internautes sur 142 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Living Walt 10 juin 2005
Par James Hiller - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Michael Cunningham has proven himself to be one of today's finest writers. From his stunning comprehensive book "Flesh and Blood" to what I believe one of the best books ever written, "The Hours", Cunningham's great literary gift is his careful use of words; i.e. making the words work for him, instead of he working for the words. Such is the case with his latest book, "Specimen Days", just recently released.

A compendium of three stories, like the Hours, Specimen Days tells three separate stories in three separate times, and like the Hours, they are interconnected. The first story is one of an industrailized New York, where machinery rules, and a young boy copes with life and death, and his infinite knowledge of Walt Whitman. The second story takes place in modern New York, as a black psychologist deals with terrorism in today's age. The third story zips along to a futuristic New York, with a trio of futuristic entities as they make their way through this world.

Whereas the Hours has clear and amazing connections, the reader must work more for the connections in this book, however, they are there. The most obvious one is Cunningham's use of essentially the same three characters in each story, continuining along with their own stories, There are more subtle and rich connections, and they are worth the discovery.

However, the thing I am most impressed about with this book is Cunningham's writing. There is a scene in the first story that exemplifies his writing style, and the beauty of his words. Lucas, a deformed adolscent, is sent on a mini-quest by none other than Walt Whitman, and Lucas finds himself in Central Park at the Bethesda fountain. As Lucas peers beyond the angels hands, he sees the impressive starlight, never having seen it before. The scene was so moving, with each word chosen exactly right, that I read it over and over again, to relive the experience created by Cunningham. For that alone, this book is worth the journey.

It may be another few years before we get treated to another Cunningham book, but let me tell you, it is definitely worth the wait.
55 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Voice of Cunningham Continues! 17 juillet 2005
Par IngenueHeart - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I fell in love with Michael Cunningham's writing with his spectacular opus, "The Hours." I continue to love his style and voice in his latest, "Specimen Days."

Each scene's crispness of style and beautiful eloquence kept me enthralled from the first page to the last. The masterful usage of Whitman's own poetic talent profoundly adds to the novel as a whole and never detracts from Cunningham's own powerful and unique voice throughout his narratives.

I was particularly fond of the novellas "Like Beauty" and "The Children's Crusade." I found these two stories to be of considerable importance to our lives and I reread them both for their deep message and artistic voice.

The clever and imaginative style combined with a painter's eye for imagery makes it as memorable as the Hours and it absolutely stands on its own as a fantastically accomplished feat. There are few authors who can tap into true creativity these days like Cunningham can and any fan of his work should be quite satisfied with his latest!

Can't wait for more! I also highly recommended the exceptionally beautiful novel, "Anna's Trinity" by Howard Cobiskey
48 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Magnificent Adaptation of Whitman to Modern American Life 13 juin 2005
Par Steve Koss - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Following publication of his paean to universality, LEAVES OF GRASS, Walt Whitman spent much of his Civil War years as a nurse in the war hospitals around Washington, D.C. His experiences dealing with the human ruination visited by war upon ordinary souls led to two great but lesser known works, a book of poetry entitled DRUM TAPS ("O Captain, My Captain") and a collection of essays about the horrors of war published in 1882 under the title SPECIMEN DAYS. Michael Cunningham's SPECIMEN DAYS draws not only its title but its thematic soul from Whitman. Rather than the Civil War, however, Cunningham focuses on humanity's war against itself and the planet on which we live. His is a story of terrorism told in three parts, beginning with industrial terrorism, moving to post-9/11 acts of random terrorism, and ending with a futuristic parable of ecological and religious terrorism.

The first section of SPECIMEN DAYS is entitled "In the Machine." The main character, Simon, has just died, literally eaten by a metal stamping machine in a factory referred to as "the works," a Dickensian horror chamber of industrial mindlessness. Simon's betrothed, Catherine, works as a seamstress, sewing sleeves to bodices at a dress company named Mannahatta. Simon's birth-deformed, 12-year-old brother, Lucas, takes Simon's place in the same factory, on the same machine. Lucas's belief that he can hear his dead brother's voice in the machine leads him to a seemingly demented act that saves Catherine's life.

In the second section, titled "The Children's Crusade," Catherine becomes Cat, a 30-ish black woman trained as a psychologist, all intuitions and hunches. Cat works for the police department, taking hot line calls of would-be bombers and deciding which ones to take seriously. Simon becomes her younger, white, MBA futures trader, the very soul of analytical reason. Cat's tragic mistake in judgment on a child's call leads her to connect with "the family," a loose network of child terrorists seeking to reconnect urban Americans to rural life and Nature. Lucas appears as another deformed young boy, this one a terrorist whose mission has only just begun when he meets Cat.

In the futuristic final section, "Like Beauty," Catherine is Catareen, a four-foot tall, female lizard-alien from the planet Nadia. Most of the north and northeastern U.S. is now uninhabitable as a result of "the meltdown," radical Christian factions have apparently seized control of the government, and New York City has become a gigantic theme park. Simon is an android actor, stationed in Central Park as a mugger and programmed to thrill Eurasian tourists with the dangerous nostalgia of "Old New York." A most unlikely pair, Catareen and Simon set out for Denver on a mythic quest, where they meet the deformed boy Lucas and their respective fates.

Walt Whitman infuses Cunningham's stories like a spiritual force, even making a personal appearance in the first section as he guides young Lucas to his first vision of the stars over the Angel of the Waters Fountain in Central Park's Bethesda Terrace. More than just having characters who almost uncontrollably utter lines from LEAVES OF GRASS (as a result of psychological defect, brainwashing, and finally, a faulty "poetry chip"), Cunningham makes Whitman's, "Every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you" an insistent refrain. Freedom to live a natural life, to live in Nature instead of simply dominating and corrupting it, is Cunningham's recurring theme. Small Whitmanisms flicker through the text - Mannahatta, the name of the dress company in the first story, is the title of one "chapter" of LEAVES OF GRASS. Cunningham also plays on Whitman's sense of earthly and cosmic oneness by using the name Gaya in all three sections, an obvious homonym for the Earth Goddess Gaia and the so-called Gaia Hypothesis of the Earth as itself a living, breathing organism.

SPECIMEN DAYS is a great literary read, at once an historical novel, a contemplation of post-9/11 America, and a futuristic science fantasy. It is a book you will not want to put down until you've finished it. Familiarity with Walt Whitman's work is not necessary, but reading this book will surely convey Whitman's illimitable sense of wonder at life's interconnectedness and his belief in the eternal continuity of all things. What better weapon with which to combat industrial, ecological, and religious terrorism than such exuberant passion for life and for our eternal place among the stars?
19 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Did He Lose His Nerve? 9 août 2005
Par Malcolm Logan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days is the most disappointing book I've read this year. It simply doesn't live up to its own promise. What starts out so well written and thematically rich, gets lost, seems to bog down and flounders at last to a desperate and irresolute conclusion. Cunningham sets himself a difficult task by trying to structure Specimen Days like his previous novel, The Hours, with its three different tales set in three different historical periods with the common denominator being the work of a single towering literary figure, in this case Walt Whitman. Such a constraining strategy risks coming off as gimmicky if Cunningham doesn't deliver the goods, but early in the book it looks like he is going to rise to the challenge, saying something profound about our view of terrorism post-9/11. But then he abandons that trajectory and serves up a weird science fiction tale instead, one which owes more to Stephen King's The Dead Zone then to anything preceding it in this book.

It appears Cunningham loses his nerve. What he seems to be flirting with saying, halfway through the second story in Specimen Days - a story set in present day New York in which the heroine has to cope with a group of suicide bombers who are children - is that we owe it to ourselves to try to understand the people who are trying to kill us, that terrorists, too, are human beings, and that denying their humanity and simply trying to exterminate them may not be the best long term solution to the problem. This idea bubbles near the surface when Cat, the heroine, attempts to disarm a child who is carrying a bomb and may set it off at any moment, killing them both: "Cat was seized by a spasm of dreadful compassion. Here was a monster; here was a frightened child. Here was a tortured little boy who could at any moment blow them both away."

I found myself saying "hooray!" ready to give Cunningham high marks for taking on such a controversial (and yet ultimately constructive) view of things in the current political climate. He gets at the theme in several other places as well, so the implication is not strictly circumstantial. But then Cunningham drops the hot potato and backs away. All the ingredients are in place, particularly with reference to the first story, set in late nineteenth century New York, in which a soulful child goes to work in a sweatshop and is dehumanized by his relationship with a mechanized world. Cunningham had something cooking here and after finishing the first two stories I was eager to embark on the third. What a let-down! I would've been more satisfied to see Specimen Days end after the second story. It would've been better than what Cunningham serves up.

I have no objection to science fiction per se and I firmly believe Cunningham could've inserted a science fiction tale as the last piece in the triptych and made it work. He is a talented writer and can do many things, but this story is so weirdly out there, with its lizard people and semi-robots and a phallic silver space ship with fins like something off the cover of a 1950's copy of Analog Science Fact and Fiction, it's just too jarring. Imagine switching channels from PBS to HBO to The Cartoon Channel and you get the idea. To make matters worse, Cunningham seems desperately anxious to tie this story thematically to other stories without any clear idea of how. Ultimately, the story feels labored, juvenile and clichéd. I couldn't help but sense that he intended going somewhere else with Specimen Days and lost his nerve or was discouraged from going there and ended up tacking on this listless experiment with Science Fiction instead.

I hope it's not true. I admire Cunningham's talent and would hate to think he compromised so cravenly. On the other hand, if Specimen Days doesn't represent an eleventh hour bail and is truly the new standard by which we are to measure his ability, I'm terribly disappointed as well.
37 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
One of our finest writers at the top of his form. 14 juin 2005
Par I. Sondel - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Considering that July 2005 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," it is only fitting that Michael Cunningham's impressive new novel "Specimen Days" celebrates the work of Whitman.

Set in New York City, "Specimen Days" is a marvel of construction and execution. The plots compliment each other with recurring character names and reference to places and objects, while utilizing Whitman's poetry as a unifying motif. With skill and insight Cunningham has captured three separate genres - a ghost story set in the 1880's, a modern day story of suspense, and an allegorical science fiction tale set 150 years in the future. Along the way there are passages of great beauty. Indeed, the scene where a disfigured boy encounters Whitman on a Manhattan street is one of the most rapturous in contemporary literature. This is truly bravura writing.

It is difficult for an artist to follow a work generally regarded as a masterpiece, and though this work does feature three connected stories in in different time periods, that is where all comparisons with "The Hours" should begin and end. "Specimen Days" may not prove to be a masterwork, but it is an inspired and rewarding piece of fiction, and deserves to be appreciated for its own virtues which are many.
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