In Flesh and Blood, Michael Cunningham takes us on a masterful journey through four generations of the Stassos family as he examines the dynamics of a family struggling to "come of age" in the 20th century.
In 1950, Constantine Stassos, a Greek immigrant laborer, marries Mary Cuccio, an Italian-American girl, and together they produce three children: Susan, an ambitious beauty, Billy, a brilliant homosexual, and Zoe, a wild child. Over the years, a web of tangled longings, love, inadequacies and unfulfilled dreams unfolds as Mary and Constantine's marriage fails and Susan, Billy, and Zoe leave to make families of their own. Zoe raises a child with the help of a transvestite, Billy makes a life with another man, and Susan raises a son conceived in secret, each extending the meaning of family and love. With the power of a Greek tragedy, the story builds to a heartbreaking crescendo, allowing a glimpse into contemporary life which will echo in one's heart for years to come.
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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 Booklist:
Family defines us, one way or another. In Cunningham's empathic and searing family drama, the haphazardness of genetics and fate plays in mocking counterpart to the predictability of heartache. Author of the widely acclaimed novel The Home at the End of the World (1990), Cunningham is a tenacious and word-perfect writer with acute insight into the eccentricity of personalities and the chemistry of intimate relationships. He stretches this sorrowful saga across an entire century, beginning in 1935 in Greece, where a boy suffers poverty and neglect. Constantine Stassos eventually immigrates to the U.S., where he marries a lovely and industrious young woman, amasses a fortune, and turns his attractive home into a living hell. No one goes unscathed, from his suffocating wife, Mary, through his self-negating eldest daughter, his acerbic gay son, and his younger daughter, Zoe, a strangely feral child. As the years go by and abrupt social changes become the rack upon which families are wrenched and broken, each member of the Stassos clan struggles to achieve love and respect. Cunningham, in a remarkable performance, inhabits the psyche of each of his striking characters as they find themselves in one surprising situation after another. Donna Seaman
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