Review: A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

by - Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Title: A Home at the End of the World
Author: Michael Cunningham
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 343
Format: Turkish edition in paperback
Source: Received from Turkish publisher for review upon my own request


'It was the start of my second new life, in a city that had a spin of its own - a wilder orbit inside the earth's calm blue-green whirl. New York wasn't open to the hopelessness and lost purpose that drifted around lesser places . . . '

Meet Bobby, Jonathan and Clare. Three friends, three lovers, three ordinary people trying to make a place for themselves in the harsh and uncompromising world of the Seventies and Eighties.

And as our threesome form a new kind of relationship, a new approach to family and love, questioning so much about the world around them, so they hope to create a space, a home, in which to live.

My thoughts:

I wrote the original review right after I finished the book, and it's what you'll be reading here:

I'm writing this review as soon as I've finished the book. I feel like I'm on the verge of crying, but no tears seem to appear in my eyes. I think about the people I've known in my 30 years on this planet, those whom I couldn't say goodbye to yet haven't seen since, those whom I DID say goodbye to and met again years after... I think about how I would describe whom if I sat down to write it all down; about how much we've cried together and laughed. How we found peace in silence. How we couldn't get rid of the people we hated. How those I've judged in the beginning ended up being my must-haves...

You will find all these and more in A Home at the End of the World. Cunningham has written this book eight years before he wrote The Hours, and it was this book which lay the foundation of The Hours: the environment, the feelings are all so similar. In A Home at the End of the World, we as readers are witness to how childhood friends Bobby and Jonathan spend their time together, how they end up running away from home, from certain things and certain people and how they get back together in New York. We feel their sorrow, disappointments, joy, everything... Cunningham tells the story from different characters' points of view; while we listen to their stories from themselves, we also get to see how others around them view them.

Someone who reviewed this book on GoodReads wrote that if you're the kind of readers who underlines while they read, you should buy new pens, a whole box of new pens. This is a very accurate observation. I too underline while I read and I dogear pages if I don't have a pen, and you can see how my copy ended up in the photo on the left. And this is apart from what I jotted down in my notebook while I read. I think this is proof of how masterfully Cunningham uses words.

In all of my writing classes, professors kept telling us to show; not to tell. Sometimes consciously, and at times unconsciously I rate authors by how well they master this. The ones I don't like are the kind of ones that say "marble lips" instead of "cold lips" ever single time. Cunningham, on the other hand, show us what kind of a mental state Bobby is in after his brother's death with a jacket: "His hair was an electrified nest. He wore boots, and a leather jacket decorated with a human eye worked in faded cobalt thread." If you've read this spoiler, so make sure you keep the jacket in mind while reading. END OF SPOILER.

Lastly, I want to add that this book is full of music and takes you through different musical trends as you read. The book was also made into a movie starring Colin Farrell, Dallas Roberts, Robin Wright and Sissy Spacek. Apparently, Michael Cunningham himself wrote the screenplay for the movie, and it definitely shows.

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