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Specimen Days

New or Used: 2 copies from $6.95
New or Used: 2 copies from $6.95

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Key title One of the most anticipated novels of 2005 from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours. Michael Cunningham's profile has grown immensely in the UK since the film adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours. The Hours sold 300,000 copies in paperback. He is now one of the world's most highly regarded novelists. He will be in the UK for publication and an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival is confirmed. Competition: Alan Hollinghurst

About the Author

Michael Cunningham is the author of six novels, including `A Home at the End of the World', `Flesh and Blood', `The Hours' (winner of the PEN / Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize), `Specimen Days' and `By Nightfall', as well as `Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown'. His most recent novel is `The Snow Queen'. He lives in New York.


Engaging Walt Whitman as his muse (and borrowing the name of Whitman's 1882 autobiography for his title), Cunningham weaves a captivating, strange and extravagant novel of human progress and social decline. Like his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours, the novel tells three stories separated in time. But here, the stage is the same (the "glittering, blighted" city of Manhattan), the actors mirror each other (a deformed, Whitman-quoting boy, Luke, is a terrorist in one story and a teenage prophet in another; a world-weary woman, Catherine, is a would-be bride and an alien; and a handsome young man, Simon, is a ghost, a business man and an artificial human) and weighty themes (of love and fear, loss and connection, violence and poetry) reverberate with increasing power. "In the Machine," set during the Industrial Revolution, tells the story of 12-year-old Luke as he falls in love with his dead brother's girlfriend, Catherine, and becomes convinced that the ghost of his brother, Simon, lives inside the iron works machine that killed him. The suspenseful "The Children's Crusade" explores love and maternal instinct via a thrilleresque plot, as Cat, a black forensic psychologist, draws away from her rich, white and younger lover, Simon, and toward a spooky, deformed boy who's also a member of a global network committed to random acts of terror. And in "Like Beauty," Simon, a "simulo"; Catareen, a lizard-like alien; and Luke, an adolescent prophet, strike out for a new life in a postapocalyptic world. With its narrative leaps and self-conscious flights into the transcendent, Cunningham's fourth novel sometimes seems ready to collapse under the weight of its lavishness and ambition-but thrillingly, it never does. This is daring, memorable fiction. Agent, Gail Hochman. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

`Intricately conceived, stylishly written and admirably ambitious, this absorbing novel lingers in the mind.' Peter Parker, Sunday Times

`"Specimen Days" contains more incidental beauty and emotional insight than many impeccably dull items on the shortlists of prestigious literary prizes. And it's by far the best gothic historical sci-fi cop thriller you'll ever read.' Michel Faber, Guardian

`Cunningham's conclusion is decidedly optimistic, if not utopian...And it is that abiding, dreamlike cinematic sweep of time - and our place within it - which makes "Specimen Days" an ultimately satisfying, richly rewarding and deeply enjoyable book.' Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph

`Thought-provoking.' Independent

`As a novel of ideas, "Specimen Days" manages to be both entertaining and moving...puzzling, thought-provoking and well worth having.' Daily Telegraph

`Like its namesake, this novel is a work of genius.' Glasgow Herald

Three characters seen in three different settings: the Industrial Revolution; the 21st century, as terrorists pockmark New York with bombs; and 150 years into the future. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-Billed as a novel, this Walt Whitman-inspired genre bender works more as three novellas, each one tackling a different form. "In the Machine" is a ghost story of sorts set in mid-1800s New York City. Young Luke takes a job at the factory where his older brother was killed. He falls in love with Simon's girlfriend and begins to hear his dead brother's voice speaking to him through the violent poundings, whirrings, and clankings. While the 19th-century style of writing evokes a dark, spooky atmosphere, some readers may be put off a little by the slow pace. "The Children's Crusade" carries readers to post-9/11 New York. Cat, a forensic psychologist, investigates a network of terrorists who use children to commit attacks. Suspenseful and exciting, the tale moves beyond the norms of the typical thriller by dredging up deep issues from Cat's past. "Like Beauty" takes place 150 years into the future. There, the simulo, or android, Simon and the lizardlike alien Catareen join in a bizarre and terrifying road trip from New York City to Denver. Cunnigham does a wonderful job of creating a postapocalyptic society that's frightening and surreal, but also surprisingly believable. The three stories don't connect so much as reflect off one another by way of reusing characters' names and descriptions and revisiting locales. Cunningham's fans might be a little disconcerted by the content at first, but they will find the same flair for language, skillfully developed characters, and themes of identity and longing that make the author's other works so successful.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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