It takes a gutsy author to take a well-known modern classic novel and write his own riff on its themes and characters. And it takes an extremely skillful author to have that book lauded, awarded a Pulitzer and a PEN/Faulkner, and become successful on its own. The icing on the cake is to have the book become an A-list motion picture. Michael Cunningham's The Hours achieved all this. Small wonder that readers have been anticipating his new novel, Specimen Days.
Powell's latest newsletter features an interview with Cunningham:
In The Hours (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award), Michael Cunningham channeled Virginia Woolf as both collaborator and subject; in Specimen Days, he summons Walt Whitman as witness and specter. The two novels are as different as the writers that inspired them. What they share, however, present in all of Cunningham's work, is a network of underlying connections, a powerful urge toward community, in body and in spirit.