Golden States

PDF EBook by Michael Cunningham

EBook Description

Golden States is Cunningham's first novel, and it definitely shows the growing pains of a writer moving from short stories into a longer form. Golden States PDF EBook Cunningham admits he wrote it in a feverish spat of productivity just before he turned thirty, worried that he'd end up a 60- PDFyear-old in a divey bar still talking about that novel he always meant to finish. In an interview about the book, he mentions that he's "so much more interested in some kind of grand ambitious failure than I am in someone's modest little success that achieves its modest little aims, and felt that Golden States was a book like that, and I wasn't happy about it."It's an extended sketch of a character's psychological faultlines, and portrays how that character achieves some measure of awkward grace, although it lacks the richness, scope, inventiveness, and surety ofThe Hours and Specimen Days .

The story is told in a close third person. It follows David Stark, a 12-year-old coming of age in Reagan-era SoCal. David is hemmed in on either side by childhood (represented by his annoying kid sister, Lizzie) and a burgeoning adolescence that is both alluring and monstrous (similarly symbolized by his flirtatious, flighty older half-sister, Janet). When Janet returns home, running from her fiance and the inevitable compromises of marriage, David imagines himself as her protector, and sets off on a quest to both step into adulthood and to protect his family from forces well beyond his control.

The mythic and psycho-sexual dimensions of the book are intelligent and interesting, but Cunningham doesn't always trust his reader to get his meaning. As a result, the symbolism is occasionally ham-handed (e.g. Coyotes coming in out of the hills, just as Janet's fiancé download; shows up unannounced in the neighborhood, a scene where David shelters his unaware family with an umbrella at the very end, etc.), and his narrator's central identity as an agent of salvation is often broadcast, rather than suggested. Early on in the novel, for instance, David follows a once-beautiful woman around the neighborhood grocery store, then tails her out to her car, wondering if "maybe she could be saved." David maintains this same basic attitude towards every woman in the novel, and it wears thin when Cunningham reminds the reader every two pages.

I think Golden States is best read from the vantage point of a writer's craft. A first novel can occasionally be an electrifying, innovative success. But a first novel is often a young author exorcising fears of never beginning in the first place.

(The Cunningham interview, if you'd like to read it, is available here.)
Like this book? Read online this: David Bowie Black Book, The Astrology of the Golden Dawn (Golden Dawn Studies Number 10).

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