So much to love about Michael Cunningham‘s new novel, By Nightfall, set in the New York art world. One of my favorite things is the way the main character Peter describes his world by reference to literary markers. For example, on the first page, he describes a man on the street like this:
An elderly bearded man in a soiled, full-length down coat, grand in his way (stately, plump Buck Mulligan?)
Later in the novel, he describes a place like this:
Pay no attention to that which encircles New York City: the fences topped with concertina-wire circles guarding factories that may or may not be out of business, the grim brick monoliths of housing projects….The eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg would not be entirely out of place here.
Still later, although less subtle, is this description of a house:
It’s not Gatsby’s house, it’s Daisy Buchanan’s; it’s the source of the green light across the water.