I just finished reading Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham. And cry as I finished it. What an amazing book, filled with insights, tenderness, compassion, pain. And such good writing.
Published in 1995, Flesh and Blood tells the story of a multi-generation family, knitted together by Constantine, the young man who becomes a father and then a grandfather, and the family that grows around him and his wives and children. The novel starts in the 1930s, and projects out to 2035, a 100 years, and it’s beautiful, and painful and deep.
Of course, since it is Michael Cunningham, there’s deep insights into coming out as a gay man, there’s a trans character, and more than one haunted wild child. But there are also hungry souls inside suburban matrons, so much yearning, and one chapter after another that made me think of Forster’s “only connect.”
I think the last book I read I loved in this particular way was 1Q84 by Murakami, which left me in a dream for days (it was also more than 600 pages long and took days to read.)
What made Flesh and Blood speak to me so deeply? The way it speaks about yearning and loss. The depictions of internal states, so sensitively sketched out. The beauty of the prose. The craft. The insights into being trapped in conventionality (I relate to that) and the insights into being queer and coming out (I relate to those also, though I don’t identify as gay.)
Honest, sensitive, real–so much of the book embodies those qualities for me. A wonderful read.