Saturday, February 13, 2010

First Line of Specimen Days

Walt said that the dead turned into grass, but there was no grass where they'd buried Simon.

- Michael Cunningham, Specimen Days.
This was a unique book. A novel consisting of three sections, basically unrelated except for some minor connections but all having a major connection to Walt Whitman's poetry. I'm not really sure what it's all about, but Cunningham is an excellent storyteller and kept me turning the pages well after I should have turned off the light and gone to bed. His writing is simple, with occasional moments of great beauty or humor. Witness a paragraph from section two:
She said a few quick good-nights to coworkers who were busy at their own phones and didn't seem to notice she was leaving before her own shift was over. She clipped on down the hall. Although she didn't like to dwell on it, the division's offices might have been designed for maximum grimness. Could the cubicle dividers be the color of a three-day-old corpse? Sure. Could greenish light buzz down on everyone from milky plastic ceiling panels? Absolutely. Could the smell of burnt coffee be blown through the air-conditioning ducts? No problem.

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