Flesh and Blood

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9780671535643: Flesh and Blood

Michael Cunningham's novel A Home at the End of the World introduced him as one of the most passionate of contemporary writers. In Flesh and Blood, he has produced a work of broad sweep, powerful narrative drive, and intense feeling.

Flesh and Blood follows the Stassos family through four generations, as it is transformed by ambition, love, violence, and accumulating history. Constantine Stassos, a Greek immigrant, marries Mary Cuccio, an Italian-American girl, and they have three children, each fated to a complex life. Susan is oppressed by her beauty and her father's affections; Billy is brilliant, and gay; Zoe is a wild, heedless visionary. As the years pass, their lives unfold in ways that compel them, and their parents, to meet ever greater challenges. Zoe raises a child in New York with a transvestite friend; Billy searches for love and battles with his father; Susan raises a son whose explosive emotions bring the story to its climax.

Generous, masterfully crafted, alternately stirring and heartbreaking, Flesh and Blood is a rich and memorable sounding of contemporary life.

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About the Author:

Michael Cunningham Flesh and Blood is Michael Cunningham's third novel. His first, Golden States, was published in 1984. His second, A Home at the End of the World, published in 1991, was widely acclaimed and was shortlisted for the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize.

Cunningham has also published a wide array of short stories, including "White Angel" in The New Yorker (1988), "Pearls" in The Paris Review (1982), and "Ignorant Armies" in The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories (Viking/Penguin 1994). He has also written articles for publications such as Esquire, Vogue, and Out including "After AIDS, Gay Art Aims for a New Reality" for the front page of the Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times in April 1992.

Having won numerous fellowships from institutions such as the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Cunningham has been awarded for his prose time and time again. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University and a Master of Arts from the University of Iowa, Writer's Workshop.

Michael Cunningham currently lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

The cheers that greeted his literary debut, A Home at the End of the World, will resound again for Cunningham's second novel. Here his prose is again rich, graceful and luminous, and he exhibits a remarkable maturity of vision and understanding of the human condition. The marriage of Greek immigrant Constantine to Mary, the offspring of an Italian clan, is a mismatch of incompatible personalities, a union that is later maintained in a delicate balance between incomprehension and rage. The birth of their three children exacerbates the tension and leaves its indelible mark unto the third generation. When he becomes a partner in a shoddy construction company, Con lifts the Stassos family from near-poverty in Elizabeth, N.J., to a nouveau-riche enclave on Long Island, but his lifelong concern with money, and with exhibiting "manliness," erupts into violent behavior that alienates his only son, Billy, even before the boy realizes that he is a homosexual. Con damages the other children, too; Susan escapes his sexual overtures through an early marriage, and wild, feral Zoe joins the drug culture in New York. Yet Cunningham condemns no one; he understands that Con "exists in a chaos of yearning . . . [of] love and... hunger and... bottomless grief," and he portrays the other characters with equal sympathy. In delineating the story of this disconnected family, each member floating in his or her own sphere of bewilderment, anger, mistrust and fear but inextricably bound to others by flesh and blood, Cunningham illuminates the chasm between parents and children in contemporary America, beginning in the 1970s, when drug use and sexual freedom broke traditional constraints. Both fate and accident determine all of the characters' lives. Con betrays beautiful, distant Mary with his partner's fat, plain secretary?and ends up married to her. Mary becomes friends with Cassandra, a drag queen who is the godmother of Zoe's illegitimate half-black son. Billy renames himself Will, and finally finds a loving companion. All the characters are fallible and come late to self-knowledge. Cunningham's portraits are so honest and sensitive that we can see into their souls. His prose is both restrained and mesmerizing: individual scenes?such as one of teenagers in a car wreck?become incandescent images. In the end, what remains of Con and Mary's failed dreams of their lives and those of their children and grandchildren becomes a transcendent testament to the power of human endurance. 75,000 first printing; movie rights optioned by Tony Ganz/Wolf Productions; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Cunningham, Michael
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio, U.S.A. (1996)
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