By Nightfall

By Nightfall

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
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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.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374299088
0374299080
Branch Call Number: CUNNINGH
Characteristics: 238 pages ; 22 cm.

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WVMLStaffPicks Sep 10, 2014

This author of The Hours gives us another bittersweet look at love and marriage. Peter, a New York art dealer, finds himself questioning his love for his wife and his newfound obsession with her younger brother. Peter's own brother died of AIDS at a young age and Peter realizes that he has never truly dealt with his grief or his own sexuality. Cunningham combines eroticism with aesthetics in a manner that is reminiscent of Thomas Mann and Henry James.

r
rosefeliciano
Aug 06, 2012

this book was a little bizarre. I cannot decide if I liked it or not. It was an interesting read and at parts I felt like I saw the train wreck coming, coming, coming.....then it came and I was a little stunned.

Interesting choices by the characters and how he set it up. But very odd story. Or rather odd ending.

m
myluckytigerbelt
Apr 14, 2011

Michael Cunnignham has written some great work. This is a good book but not one of his great ones, but his version of good is better than most. This story is about Peter, an art dealer, and his marriage to Rebecca, an art magazine editor, and her brother Mizzy (short for mistake, no hard-to-read symbols in this work) a younger drug-addled twenty-something who shows up to crash on their couch.
The New York City art world is explored as is beauty, marriage, family, adultery, and middle-aged malaise. The story is told simply, elegantly and in a very detailed way over the less than 250 pages. There are really only a few things that actually happen in the book, but his writing is so good that I slowly read each word and enjoyed any tangents that were explored.
As the story neared it’s ending, I found some of what happened a little implausible and then the last conversation between the two main characters could’ve been more dramatic, but overall, the book worked as an elegant look at life in early-century New York told through a white, middle-class marriage and all that those things entail. If you are a fan of Cunningham’s work, and haven’t read this, then do. If you’re not a fan, try Flesh and Blood or The Hours by the author and if those impress you, then read this one.

h
horthhill
Mar 21, 2011

Peter Harris is a middle-aged reasonably successful art dealer. His wife is (was, she too has reached middle-age) attractive and a reasonably successful editor of an art magazine (almost going under). They have a nearly grown daughter who is floundering ... a bit. He has a good-enough lifestyle. He represents artists who are good-enough. He is uncertain if he'll ever see or represent a truly exceptional artist who produces things of outstanding beauty.
And, his brother-in-law is coming to stay...for awhile. The scandalously much much younger brother of his wife. Nicknamed Mizzy ...short for The Mistake...as in the result of a surprise late-in-life pregnancy.
Mizzy, in his early twenties, is physically very beautiful...and to Peter's eyes, an uncomfortably close approximation to the appearance of his wife as a teenager. And, Mizzy is a drug addict...or a re-forming drug addict.

By Nightfall is a well-written and compelling read. The New York art gallery world of Peter is fascinating. A book that is all about art and beauty, youth and age, and a certain inevitability of it all that concludes hopeful and on the upbeat .

s
SusannahElf
Feb 24, 2011

I really, really like Michael Cunningham's work. I've read The Hours 6 or 7 times and probably would have read At Home at the End of the World the same if I hadn't hated the ending so much. Liking Cunningham's other books is the only reason I made myself finish this one. The main problem for me was the narrator, who seems to feel that his life as the owner of an art gallery, very well-off, married to a wonderful and beautiful woman, is immeasurably sad and disappointing because the work he sells is "very good, but not seminal". And he goes on and on and on about this for the entire book. Really, that's your biggest complaint about your life? I just wasn't that interested in what happened to him, and the whole book centred around him so there wasn't anyone else to care about. Major disappointment!

t
theresalynn615
Dec 30, 2010

I enjoyed this far more than The Hours. The ending was a letdown, but he is such a good writer you almost don't notice until you read the last words.

2
21221012271000
Dec 02, 2010

Peter and Rebecca, in mid-forties with a college-going daughter in Boston, are urbanites living in New York. They appear to be happy.

Rebecca's much younger look-alike brother, with a history of drug problems, visits them.

And throws their lives into turmoil.

debwalker Nov 18, 2010

The author of such genre-bending books as The Hours and Specimen Days shifts to more stripped-down narrative territory in a novel about a Soho art dealer who begins to doubt everything he’s believed in.

Kirbs Oct 28, 2010

The arrival of a new Michael Cunningham novel is always an event. Here he returns ot his familiar terrain of relationships and family. No one describes the interior life and complexitites of others as Cunningham. Rich, absorbing, messy, and deeply felt. A beauty to imbibe.

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