Cunningham was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Pasadena, California. He studied English literature at Stanford University where he earned his degree. Later, at the University of Iowa, he received a Michener Fellowship and was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. While studying at Iowa, he had short stories published in the Atlantic Monthly and the Paris Review. His short story, "White Angel", was later used as a chapter in his novel A Home at the End of the World. It was included in "The Best American Short Stories, 1989," published by Houghton Mifflin.
In 1993, Cunningham received a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 1998 a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. In 1995 he was awarded the Whiting Writers' Award. Cunningham has taught at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and in the creative writing M.F.A. program at Brooklyn College. He is currently professor of creative writing at Yale University.
The Hours established Cunningham as a major force in American writing, and his recent novel, Specimen Days, was also well received by American critics. Cunningham has edited a book of poetry and prose by Walt Whitman, Laws for Creations, and has co-written, with Susan Minot, a screenplay adapted from Minot's novel Evening. He is also a producer for the 2007 film, Evening, which stars Glenn Close, Toni Collette, and Meryl Streep.
Michael Cunningham is an American writer, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. Several years ago, shortly after his 1998 novel, The Hours, Cunningham wanted to walk away from his life. 'I just couldn't do it because I love Kenny too much,' he says, referring to psychologist Ken Corbett, his lover since 1986. Plus, says Cunningham, he accepted he was a writer for life, though he acknowledges, 'There's always the possibility that I could become a jeweler.'
He may have won a Pulitzer Prize for “The Hours,” but that’s because the committee regretted not giving him the prestigious award for “Flesh and Blood” years before. That’s the story I tell myself. Not because “The Hours” isn’t wonderful. But because “Flesh and Blood” is an American Epic. It’s grand, deep, absorbing, thrilling, urgent. In a hundred years high school kids will be reading Cunningham’s book along with “The Great Gatsby.” The book is filled with so much: an immigrant’s tale, a family saga, gay life, AIDS, drug addiction, adoption, and life during the queasy final decades of the 20th century. Everyone should read it. --Aaron Krach
I believe Michael Cunningham is a master storyteller. His ability to cinematically capture precise imagery is astounding. I first read The Hours and the A Home at the end of the World – both highly recommended. Cunningham has an astute gift for creating realistic and lovable characters and then folding them into each other so before we realize it a whole world has enveloped us. An incisive perspective on human sexuality and both the torment and ecstasy that come in its many variations. --Charlie David
A Home at the End of the World (first half) – Michael Cunningham. I’ve only read the first half on advice of many friends, but it’s an amazing portrait of suburban teenage America and fumbling with sexual feelings with a best friend in your bedroom. When the mother smokes pot with her son and his "boyfriend," I almost died. --Blair Mastbaum
Perhaps The Hours is an obvious choice when it comes to Cunningham, I’ve also enjoyed his earlier works (A Home at the End of the World and Flesh and Blood). But this one I appreciate for the author’s ability to weave three separate (and quite beautiful) stories into one unforgettable tale. I also like the movie a lot. --Frank Anthony Polito
A Home at the End of the World, by Michael Cunningham. I really felt very connected to both the men in the story (which is about a relationship triangle over the course of many years). One is straight, one is gay, and they are both contemporaries of mine – so there were many touch points I could so easily identify with. The structure of this novel, where alternating chapters are written from each of the main characters’ point of view, has influenced how I’m putting together “Forest Dark,” the novel I’m writing now. I also loved the epic nature of the story, in that it follows an enduring friendship over many years, and found myself longing for the kind of love expressed in this book. --Jim Arnold
A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham. A devastating read about finding and losing family. It´s more than just a love story. For me, it came at a tumultuous time in my life when I was very ill. Reading Cunningham´s work gave me a warm feeling that few books can. This is a tome about character above all else. The film adaptation is pretty damn good, albeit minus one important character. --Eric Arvin
Michael Cunningham, 1991, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1081941)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (April 18, 2006)
Amazon: Specimen Days: A Novel
Amazon Kindle: Specimen Days: A Novel
One of the most anticipated novels of 2005 from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘The Hours’.
‘Specimen Days’ is three linked visionary narratives about the relationship between man and machine. The first narrative, a ghost story set at the height of the Industrial Revolution, tells the story of man-eating machines. An ecstatic boy, barely embodied in the physical world, speaks in the voice of the great visionary poet Walt Whitman. He works at an oppressive factory connected to the making of a mysterious substance with some universal function and on which the world's economy somehow depends. The slight boy can barely operate the massive machine which speaks to him in the voice of his devoured brother. A woman who was to have married the brother is now the object of obsessive interest by the boy. In a city in which all are mastered by the machine, the boy is convinced that the woman must be saved before she too is devoured.
This grisly but ultimately transformative story establishes three main characters who will appear, reincarnated, in the other two sections of this startling modern novel. The boy, the man and the woman are each in search of some sort of transcendence as is made manifest by the recurrence of the words of Whitman (‘It avails not, neither distance nor place…I am with you, and know how it is’). In part two, a noir thriller set in the early years of our current century, the city is at threat from maniacal bombers, while the third and last part plays with the sci-fi genre, taking our characters centuries into the future. The man who was devoured by a machine in part one is now literally a machine – a robot who becomes fully human before our eyes. The woman is a refugee from another part of the universe, a warrior in her native land but a servant on this planet.
‘Specimen Days’ is a genre-bending, haunting ode to life itself – a work of surpassing power and beauty by one of the most original and daring writers at work today.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/2989328.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.