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By Nightfall: A Novel by Michael Cunningham
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By Nightfall: A Novel (2010)

by Michael Cunningham

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8576010,427 (3.42)38
Recently added byRena37, Pmaurer, davidcronenberg, Devlindusty, private library
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    Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (sturlington)
    sturlington: By Nightfall was inspired by Death in Venice and references it extensively.
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    Saturday by Ian McEwan (Tanya-dogearedcopy)
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English (52)  Dutch (4)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Stream-of-consciousnees novel from the pov of a contemporary art dealer in New York whose marriage is threatened when he develops an attraction to his wife's brilliant ne'er-do-well younger brother. This wasn't as good as The Hours, but none-the-less, perceptive, with an ambiguous, satisfying finish. I like the polish with which Cunningham describes the events of ordinary lives on ordinary days. ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
From the beginning to the end I had a feeling that I have read too many books like this. It is a typical story of aging couple and their fading love. The problem is that the story thinks it reveals something deeply humane, but no, to me it revealed nothing. The story is set in New York art world, perhaps to demonstrate the shallowness of life? It also describes all its characters by how they look, not revealing (much) of their inner life and true character. The main character, art gallerist, is looking for the ultimate art and beauty that probably doesn't exist. There is an incident where an accident destroys a painting, revealing a poor picture underneath. I think this incident is the theme of the book in a nutshell. And just how I felt: this book didn't reveal anything important, beautiful or meaningful - but maybe that was its aim all along?

(I need to add that yes, the book revealed something: the great revelation was that other people are as humane as we are and, as they are not objects or images decorating our life, they have feelings as well. The main character seemed to dwell so deep in his selfishness that I found it hard to consider him as a human.) ( )
  Lady_Lazarus | Mar 30, 2016 |
Well written and engaging, though perhaps more-so as the narrative went along. The characters are well-constructed and woven together nicely. Cunningham looks at those times of "crisis of self" that can arise at points in people's life, and the questions of direction, fate, fantasy, regret, and the search for some kind of beauty in this world that we can grasp hold of. A compelling ending, and an honest look at life that doesn't seem confined just to the situation or characters described in this book. Leaves an impression. ( )
  torfeida. | Jan 21, 2016 |
I neither loved, not hated this book. It fell squarely in the middle for me.
What I enjoyed was how beautifully it was written. Cunningham has an effortless way of capturing you with his prose, despite what he's writing about!
What I disliked was pretty much everything else, starting with and mostly pertaining to the main character. I found him unlikable, boring, and self-indulgent among other things.
Not once did I connect with him or root for him. I understand that not all protagonists have to be 100% likeable, but I still need to be able to care for them in some way, and in this book I just really didn't.
The story fell short for me. There seemed to be very little depth.
Still, there was enough character development and interesting twists and turns to keep me going.
All in all, it was an ok book. Nowhere near as good as some of his others like Home at the End of the World, but still alright. ( )
  Kiddboyblue | Oct 26, 2015 |
I would love to have been there at the genesis of the idea for this book.

I can picture Michael Cunningham having an after dinner aperitif with a bunch of his intellectual friends, perhaps at his summer home on the Cape, discussing, a bit condescendingly no doubt, the boom in gay romance novels written by [and, largely, for] women. I imagine them chortling over the various tropes – hurt/comfort, master/slave and of course the silliest and, arguably most offensive, “gay for you.” For the uninformed, it’s pretty self-explanatory – an otherwise straight (and presumably, “straight acting”) male character falls hard for another man. The caveat being, he still identifies as straight. He’s not someone who was heretofore latent or closeted. Nope. He only feels sexual desire for one man and naturally it’s a by-product of romantic feelings. Thus, “gay for you.”

I’m imagining maybe a wager was made…could Cunningham take that premise and turn it into art? By my estimation, the answer is yes. This isn’t a great book, but it’s a very good one.

The plot itself is pretty lean. Peter, a relatively successful, middle-aged art dealer is happily married to Rebecca, the editor of a respected art journal. They live an affluent life in New York’s Soho district. His only real heartbreak – a strained relationship with his twenty-two year old daughter who lives in Boston. Around the same time Peter finds out that a fellow gallery owner and friend is dying of breast cancer and in the midst of mounting yet another show of au courant yet disposable art, Rebecca’s beautiful 24 year old brother Ethan (or Mizzy, as he is known), a former drug addict, free-spirit and master manipulator, comes to stay with them.

Basically, Peter becomes obsessed with Mizzy. He mistakenly believes his infatuation is love, but it’s really because the young man reminds him of so many things he believes he’s lost. Mizzy uncannily resembles a young Rebecca. He’s close in age to Peter’s estranged daughter. His physique reminds Peter of the sort of timeless art that he truly esteems, forcing him examine his unrealized ambitions for his gallery. And the boy’s youth itself makes Peter yearn to be young and unburdened. It’s a mid-life crisis writ large through the lens of the exclusive NYC art community. I enjoyed the story, such as it is. I’m embarrassed to admit this is my first Cunningham novel and so I was surprised at how formal and mannered his writing style is. There’s definitely a rococo “more is more” aesthetic at play here and sometimes the narrative gets bogged down in the overwrought descriptions, similes and metaphors, no matter how clever or beautifully done.

Oh and yes, at different points in the story both Peter and Mizzy actually use the phrase, “gay for you.” So even though it hardly qualifies as a romance, it’s safe to say this is Mr. Cunningham’s official entry into the “gay for you” sweeps. Fancy that. ( )
  blakefraina | Jul 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Peter gaat gebukt onder wat hij zelf 'de grote verwarring' noemt. De vierenveertigjarige kunsthandelaar voelt na twintig jaar ontwrichtende routine sluipen in werk en huwelijk, en dat privéonbehagen rijmt lamlendig met dat van zijn door de bankencrisis geteisterde land en stad. New York, haast een personage in deze roman, noemt hij 'één van de meest godvergeten warhopen die ooit op het verraderlijke aardoppervlak zijn verschenen'. Al die crises weerspiegelen en versterken elkaar, met dank aan de ragfijne taaltoets van Cunningham, zodat een zwartkanten voile als voor een begrafenis over de hele roman komt te hangen. Al die apocalyptische doodsangst is de donkere ommekant van Peters hang naar schoonheid, zo leert het motto van Rainer Maria Rilke : 'Schoonheid is niets anders dan het begin der verschrikking.'
added by PGCM | editHumo (Nov 24, 2010)
 
Binnen één alinea zie je het voor je, dat best wel gelukkige huwelijk met sleetse randjes. Zoals Cunningham wel meer moeiteloos oproept, in dat elegante, compacte proza van hem. Het van cocktailparty's aan elkaar hangende SoHomilieu waarin ze zich bewegen, bijvoorbeeld. Of de kloof tussen Peters hooggestemde idealen - strijden voor de hogere kunsten, zoeken naar schilderijen waar zijn hart sneller van gaat kloppen - en de nogal schipperige praktijk, vol gevlei van directeursvrouwen die nog een sculptuur zoeken voor hun tuin, en kolossale ego's van kunstenaars die op het púnt staan door te breken.
added by PGCM | editHet Parool, Dirk-Jan Arensman (Nov 17, 2010)
 
In het recent verschenen Bij het vallen van de avond keert Cunningham terug naar de basics van het getal drie: de driehoeksverhouding, heel simpel. Een getrouwde man en vrouw – en een derde die het huwelijk ontregelt en op de proef stelt. Simpeler, kaler kan een romangegeven niet zijn. En dan is er nog het feit dat Michael Cunningham nu al voor de derde keer op rij een roman publiceert die naar vorm én inhoud sterk is verweven met een meesterwerk uit de wereldliteratuur. De uren was onmiskenbaar verknoopt met Mrs Dalloway (1925) van Virginia Woolf. In Stralende dagen duikt voortdurend de wereldberoemde dichtbundel Leaves of Grass (1855) van Walt Whitman op. En Bij het vallen van de avond blijkt sterk geënt op Thomas Manns Dood in Venetië (1912). Net als Dood in Venetië, de novelle over de liefde-op-afstand tussen de oude schrijver Gus­tave Aschenbach en de beeldschone jongeling Tadzio, draait het in Bij het vallen van de avond om de aarzelende liefde van de getrouwde Peter voor een veel jongere man, de begin-twintiger Ethan. Bijnaam: Mizzy.

Maar dan blijkt Peter op het monomane af ­begaan met zijn eigen onbehagen. Hij is zo ­iemand die bij de geringste mededeling of oogopslag van zijn vrouw direct voor zichzelf wil evalueren: waarom zegt ze dit? Of: waarom kijkt ze op deze manier naar mij? Ben ik nog wel gelukkig met haar? Máákt ze mij nog wel gelukkig? Het zijn de gewone vragen die we ons in een relatie allemaal stellen, maar Peter stelt zich die vragen voortdúrend. Het wordt bij hem een neurose. Dat onafgebroken bevragen van zijn eigen geluk of, liever gezegd, het door hemzelf gecultiveerde ongeluk, houdt hem zó intens bezig dat hij vergeet zich nog praktisch te verdiepen in die ander, in zijn vrouw. Zij functioneert alleen nog maar als aanjager van de twijfels die hij op zichzelf loslaat. Die twijfels houden hem zó sterk in hun greep dat hij geen oog meer heeft voor het feit dat zijn vrouw een volwaardig en autonoom wezen is, een nabije aanwezigheid met een ­éígen ziel.’
added by PGCM | editVrij Nederland, Joost Zwagerman (Nov 12, 2010)
 
Cunningham writes so well, and with such an economy of language, that he can call up the poet’s exact match. His dialogue is deft and fast. The pace of the writing is skilled — stretched or contracted at just the right time. And if some of the interventions on art are too long — well, too long for whom? For what? Good novels are novels that provoke us to argue with the writer, not just novels that make us feel magically, mysteriously at home. A novel in which everything is perfect is a waxwork. A novel that is alive is never perfect.
 

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Epigraph
Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
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This book is for Gail Hochman and Jonathan Galassi
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The Mistake is coming to stay for a while.
Quotations
The next couple of hours at the gallery are taken up with what Peter and Rebecca have come to call the Ten Thousand Things (as in, over the phone, "What are you doing?" "Oh, you know, the Ten Thousand Things"), their shorthand for the ongoing avalanche of e-mails and phone calls and meetings, their way of conveying to each other that they're busy but you don't want to know the particulars, they don't even interest me.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374299080, Hardcover)

Peter and Rebecca Harris: mid-forties denizens of Manhattan’s SoHo, nearing the apogee of committed careers in the arts—he a dealer, she an editor. With a spacious loft, a college-age daughter in Boston, and lively friends, they are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebecca’s much younger look-alike brother, Ethan (known in thefamily as Mizzy, “the mistake”), shows up for a visit. A beautiful, beguiling twenty-three-year-old with a history of drug problems, Mizzy is wayward, at loose ends, looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning his artists, their work, his career—the entire world he has so carefully constructed.

Like his legendary, Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Hours, Michael Cunningham’s masterly new novel is a heartbreaking look at the way we live now. Full of shocks and aftershocks, it makes us think and feel deeply about the uses and meaning of beauty and the place of love in our lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:32 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Peter and Rebecca Harris--mid-forties denizens of Manhattan's SoHo, he a dealer, she an editor--are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebecca's much younger look-alike brother, Ethan (known in the family as Mizzy, "the mistake"), shows up for a visit.… (more)

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