Sunday, November 21, 2010

By Nightfall

Hostess: Karin
Book: By Nightfall, by Michael Cunningham
Food: Cheese and crackers,vegetarian chili, eclairs, pomegrante seeds, chips and salsa, cookies
Wine of the Night: Red Bicyclette, Pinot Noir
Month: November

For me, this book needed to settle and sink in before I could make up my mind about how I felt about it. Kind of like how meat has to rest to seal in the juices before being served, I needed to let this book rest.

This book is in short about an art dealer, his wife, her much younger brother, and their satisfying yet boring lives, and how they really feel inside about all these things. That is my one sentence summary lol.

Peter is an art dealer somewhere in his forties- it seems like somehow the excitement of his life has gotten away from him, the euphoria of being alive and in love, and just plain feeling in charge of his own life, free. Everything about his life seems it is going well on the surface, but it also feels rather mundane to the reader, who is privy to Peter's thoughts through the third person point of view the book is written in.

His life is just going on, he is part of the ride, all is at status quo, until Mizzy arrives. Mizzy is Peter's brother in law Ethan, known as Mizzy, which is short for "The Mistake". Mizzy is about 20 years younger than his sister Rebecca and Peter, and was always treated like a brilliant little genius who was spoiled rotten by his family. He sounds like he was a precocious brat growing up, and to be honest, he still kind of was at twenty. Rebecca and her other sisters always catered to Mizzy, and wanted to fix him and his issues all the time. Mizzy is very intelligent, yet a troubled free spirit who attended Yale but never graduated and has had multiple drug problems. As he is the baby of the family, Rebecca just wants to make things better for him, and help him find the right path. Very shortly after Mizzy arrives, Peter discovers that Mizzy is using drugs still.

Mizzy's presence reawakens feelings in Peter that he had for his wife when she was younger, when they first met. Peter begins to feel an attraction to Mizzy that rocks his whole world - is he in love with Mizzy? Would he leave his family for Mizzy? We all decided at book club that he was just attracted to the wild beauty of Mizzy, and also to the similarities he shares of a young Rebecca. Peter and Mizzy share a kiss on a beach and Mizzy tells Peter that he always had a crush on him, further confusing poor Peter. Later, in a conversation over coffee post-kiss, Peter confesses that he has serious feelings for Mizzy and is not sure if he can go back to his normal life. The way the conversation unfolds, you feel as if Mizzy had set out to deliberately seduce Peter so that Peter would not tell Rebecca Mizzy was using drugs again. It made me feel bad for Peter, even though he was going to cheat on his wife with his brother in law. Peter goes home, and finds out Rebecca wants to leave him. It is probably the worst night ever for Peter. They talk about their life together, and at the books end, you feel they are going to work on things, and you know that Peter is going to confess what happened with Mizzy.

The book kind of reminded me of JD Salinger's style of writing a little. While I very much enjoyed the writing style, the pacing of the plot was a little slow for my taste. I also did not like at all how Cunningham constantly seemed to name drop. That was annoying.

Overall this book was not too bad- I will probably remember it and think about it for a while to come, and for me, this means a book has done its job.

Next month we meet at Kelly's for our Christmas book club! I am excited for it- we decided to exchange handmade gifts this year, and I am so looking forward to what my friends have created, and to give them mine. The book for next month is The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan, Kelly's pick.

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