Specimen Days

Michael Cunningham’s The Hours is a book that I really liked when I read years ago. I bought a used copy of it last year, but I have not reread it. I remember the beautiful prose, the wonderful mimickery of Woolf’s writing style and Cunningham’s own distinct prose. Specimen Days uses Walt Whitman instead of Virgina Woolf as a common thread in its three stories of the past, present, and future. This a unique novel, with each story being written stylistically different but sharing common themes, settings, and character names. The Whitman poetry and some other props (a bowl, horses) are used in each story as well linking these odd stories together in this novel. I really like Cunningham’s writing. It is best displayed in the first story of 19th century New York, but it takes interesting turns in the last two stories, one of which is almost classic Science Fiction. It is not a thriller or particularly fast moving novel, but I read it quick enough. His writing is not too labourious, but possibly too slow or boring for those who like conventional stories or novels. Definitely will be more of Cunningham as I anticipate any new book from him.

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