by nightfall

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.

10 thoughts on “by nightfall

  1. Hey, Cynthia. I’ve been so busy I’ve missed you lately. Had the best time in Oxford, Mississippi. I’ve been working on a blog about it all day. I eyeballed Cunningham’s new novel at Square Books, but I bought every author’s book who attended the conference. My suitcase home must have weighted 100 pounds. But like Ericka, I’ll add it to my TBR list. I especially enjoyed the Buck Mulligan description. 🙂


    • Hi, Darrelyn, I’m always crazy busy after a conference–so many ideas and so many things on my to-do list. Can’t wait to read your post about it. And what fun–a suitcase full of books!


  2. Hi Cindy,
    I agree, it was a wonderful book! And I missed the literary elements, so thanks! (I mean, I did not particularly note them.) But I di read twice the ways he apprehended art–many faceted.


    • Patricia, the New York art world is foreign to me, and that was also a part of my fascination with the book. I may have to write another post on this book. Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  3. That reminds me of what Douglas Coupland did with his book “Girlfriend in a Coma.” He used The Smiths lyrics and song titles littered throughout the book.

    Sounds like an interesting read!


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