Peter and Rebecca Harris: mid-forties denizens of Manhattans SoHo, nearing the apogee of committed careers in the arts - he a dealer, she an editor. With a spacious loft, a college-age daughter in Boston, and lively friends, they are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebeccas much younger look-alike brother, Ethan (known in the family as Mizzy, "the mistake"), shows up for a visit. A beautiful, beguiling twenty-three-year-old with a history of drug problems, Mizzy is wayward, at loose ends, looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning his artists, their work, his career - the entire world he has so carefully constructed.
Like his legendary, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Hours, Michael Cunninghams masterly new novel is a heartbreaking look at the way we live now. Full of shocks and aftershocks, it makes us think and feel deeply about the uses and meaning of beauty and the place of love in our lives.
"Cunningham writes so well, and with such an economy of language, that he can call up the poets exact match. His dialogue is deft and fast. The pace of the writing is skilled stretched or contracted at just the right time. And if some of the interventions on art are too long well, too long for whom? For what? Good novels are novels that provoke us to argue with the writer, not just novels that make us feel magically, mysteriously at home. A novel in which everything is perfect is a waxwork. A novel that is alive is never perfect." - Jeanette Winterston, New York Times
"Cunningham's sentences are, individually, something to behold, but they're unfortunately pressed into the service of a dud story about a well-off New Yorker's existential crisis." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. An exquisite, slyly witty, warmly philosophical, and urbanely eviscerating tale of the mysteries of beauty and desire, art and delusion, age and love." - Booklist
"[R]ealization that your life is just a stream of small dreams and small mistakes, is a defining theme in Cunningham's coruscatingly excellent fiction ... expressed here in a way that makes you ache ... Extraordinary." - Library Journal
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Rated of 5
By Nightfall is a moving account of a man struggling with his middle aged, his career choice and his marriage. It makes you feel compassion for the complexity of his situation and his desire to change it against all odds.
Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), and Specimen Days. He lives in New York.
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