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Flesh and Blood (1995)

by Michael Cunningham

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1,2331911,470 (3.88)5
The story of Constantine Stassos, a Greek immigrant. He marries an Italian girl, they have three children and he becomes a rich construction boss. After which it's downhill all the way: drugs, sex and the generation gap. The parents divorce, a son becomes a homosexual, the daughter has an illegitimate black baby. By the author of A Home at the End of the World.… (more)
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English (14)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
A bit weak. ( )
  ghefferon | Feb 16, 2020 |
Flesh and Blood is the story of a complicated family that started with the marriage at a very early age of Greek immigrant, Constantine, and Italian immigrant, Mary. They eventually have three children, Susan, Billy and Zoe, while Constantine struggles to make a living in construction on Long Island. Susan is the golden child over whom Constantine obsesses and whose presence makes her increasingly uncomfortable; Billy is academically brilliant, an outlier and the object of his father's frequent physical and verbal assaults; Zoe is the quiet child who observes her family from a quiet distance.

Cunningham deftly captures the dynamics of this group of individuals, all of whom are alienated from each other at some time for some reason with the mother wringing her hands in the background. The father's disappointment in and disapproval of his son's gay lifestyle is irreparable at an early age. His subsequent violent rages create a distance that can never be bridged. The most sympathetic character for me was the drag queen, Cassandra, with her unwavering loyalty and love at a time when it was most needed. The ending is especially poignant. ( )
  pdebolt | Feb 6, 2019 |
This might be my favorite Cunningham book. Devastating. Some parts are written from a child's perspective, very real, very intense. A lovely drag queen in this book too. ( )
  annadanz | Jul 5, 2015 |
This was the first book i read from this author. have to be honest, i didn't even read it completely. I just so didn't like the storyline, and it couldn't grab me. For as far as i have read it, it is a well written story, it just couldn't get to me. I felt sorry for the three kids, the father just annoyed me. The mother tried to be perfect in a disordered and dysfunctional family. I liked the the son and youngest daughter. The eldest is someone i just didn't have anything with...no capturing personality...It just goes on and on and on with the same things...I think it's boring. ( )
  Farore | Feb 7, 2014 |
I really enjoy Michael Cunningham's writing, quite poetic and flowing and I could not put this book down. However I am not sure I liked any of the characters, even at the end. Also, almost every male character in the novel had conflicted feelings about his sexuality, which in my limited experience did not seem realistic. ( )
  Becky221 | Dec 10, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. 'Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last. "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree."
- GERTRUDE STEIN, The Making of Americans
Dedication
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This book is for Donna Lee & Cristina Thorson
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1935. Constantine, eight years old, was working in his father's garden and thinking about his own garden, a square of powdered granite he had staked out and combed into rows at the top of his family's land. Eerst wiedde hij altijd de bonestaakrijen van zijn vader, daarna kroop hij langs de knoestige taaie ranken van zijn vaders wijngaard om eigenzinnige uitlopers weer langs de stokken te leiden met bruin touw - voor hem precies de juiste kleur en structuur van vrome, tot mislukking gedoemde inspanningen... Steeds als zijn vader dingen zei als:'We werken ons dood om in leven te blijven', zag Constantine dit touw voor zich, ruig, sterk en saai, met een weerbarstig soort beharing, je kon er de hele wereld mee samenbinden tot een log pak dat niet onderworpen en gebonden wilde blijven, net zoals wijnranden zich los bleven werken en uitbundige, zich naar de hemel uitstrekkende uitlopers vormden. Het tot orde roepen van de wijnranken behoorde tot zijn taken en hij had zowel respect als minachting voor hun koppige vrijheidsdrang ontwikkeld. De wijnranken leidden een verborgen chaotisch leven en bezaten een sluimerende wil, maar hij, Constantine, moest het ontgelden als ze niet netjes in de gewenste richting waren opgebonden.
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Ze liep de eetkamer in en verschikte een tulp in het bloemstuk op tafel. Terwijl Mary het resultaat van haar inspanningen monsterde - de servietten strak opgerold in zilveren servetringen, de kaarsen loodrecht in hun zilveren kandelabers - steeds haar gevoel van bevrediging op en viel toen weg in een complexere, maar even vertrouwde mengeling van blijdschap en vrees. Hier, te midden van het wachtende serviesgoed en kristal, huisde een schoonheid die vanwege haar onbestendigheid des te aangrijpender en angstaanjagender was. Die schoonheid zou nooit tot leven zijn gekomen als ze niet de spoedige komst van gasten had verwacht, maar toch zouden de gasten haar met hun komst tenietdoen.
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The story of Constantine Stassos, a Greek immigrant. He marries an Italian girl, they have three children and he becomes a rich construction boss. After which it's downhill all the way: drugs, sex and the generation gap. The parents divorce, a son becomes a homosexual, the daughter has an illegitimate black baby. By the author of A Home at the End of the World.

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