These are reviews originally posted to Amazon as customer reviews. They're intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. (Apologies for any typos, bad grammar, or offensive language.) This isn't sponsored by Amazon or represent them in any way, although they do have a very nice site and I recommend checking it out for your next book purchase. Feel free to comment on the books if you've read them or tell me how much my reviews suck or whatever.
That is all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Home at the End of the World

A Home at the End of the World: A Novel by Michael Cunningham

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

November 11, 2005

To make this real simple, I found "A Home at the End of the World" to be a very enjoyable read. Cunningham has great literary skills to make all of his characters seem tragic and beautiful. The story avoids a lot of cheap sentimentality, even as Jonathan's lover is dying of AIDS at the end, in favor of a more realistic, reflective tone as Bobby, Jonathan, and Clare come to terms with growing up.

I'm sure some readers could be put off by the switching of point of view (all written in first person) with each chapter, but I never found it confusing to keep track of whom was speaking. The only thing I did have a problem with was the writing was TOO good sometimes. Bobby was a blue-collar kid from Cleveland who'd been using drugs since he was 9 but he narrates like a poet. I thought his narration should have been a little rougher, the same with Alice (Jonathan's mother) as well so all four narrators didn't so similar. It's a minor flaw in an otherwise great book and very easy to look over.

The story itself is the tried-and-true "coming of age" story, only with the twist that Bobby and Jonathan are ex-lovers and wind up living with Clare, an older yet equally immature woman, in New York City. There's the potential for a coming of age story in New York to seem tired because it's been done many, many times before, but there is a freshness to the story because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the characters. I'm sure the issues about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS (which is never directly mentioned although we know what "the disease" means) were more controversial in 1990 than today, but the point is never to shock readers with any of that. Jonathan's homosexuality, Bobby's ambiguous sexuality, and the spectre of AIDS all fit inconspicuously into the story.

In short, there's very little I can say against this book. The writing is super, the characters are interesting, and the story is captivating. I think you should give it a try.

In addition I also recommend Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-winning "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" which features great writing and some of the same issues.

No comments: