Dan Sandman

34: By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham

In Books, Fiction on 23/08/2013 at 12:00 pm

By Nightfall by Michael CunninghamGood fiction gives insight into new worlds: ways of thinking that hadn’t been thought of. It creates deep pools of conciousness and unconsciousness, conveyed through the storytelling craft, transported from the writer’s imagination to the reader’s imagination. And sometimes, if it’s good enough, fiction depicts a world seemingly more real than the one inhabited in the present moment.

By Nightfall is a story about an art dealer who discovers he has a crush on his wife’s younger brother. Although the novel takes place over a sort space of time, it uses memory and inner character reflection to represent a three dimensional world spanning a middle aged lifetime. It is an intelligent book, a believable insight into the world of contemporary art and a love story.

There is the love protagonist Peter has for beauty in art. His search for perfect objects and his frustration at finding himself wanting. These desires, at the forefront of Peter’s work life, are desperately pinned onto the beautifully young Mizzy who is Peter’s brother in law. Art is imitating life, and life for Peter is becoming blurred across gender lines. He is experiencing a mid-life crisis which has put his whole identity, as a straight and married man, into question.

Because of the brilliant way that Michael Cunningham writes, elegant and sympathetic, this book is fantastically readable and will keep the pages turning for hours. On the one hand, It is a simple story about the life of an art dealer. On the other hand, the book deals with the many underlying psychologically dynamic dimensions of an identity crisis. As well as being a naturalistic look into the petite problems of privileged New Yorkers, it is a panoramic screenshot of Cunningham’s home city. A poetic love story for New York that would make an artistic film.

Great reading.

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