Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Most Complicated Love Triangle of All Time is also the Most Boring

A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1990, 344pp.)

Determined to avoid the mundane suburban existence that claimed their parents, boyhood friends and former lovers Bobby and Jonathan decide, with their love interest and female friend Clare, to move into a house in upstate New York and raise Bobby and Clare’s infant daughter together. Their hip, unconventional lives fall apart after Clare flees the scene with baby Rebecca, leaving Bobby and Jonathan, who fears he may have contracted AIDS from a former lover, to fend for themselves. What sounds like the most interesting, complicated love triangle of the decade is in fact the most boring. Cunningham’s novel is a plodding character study, one that could have been told in third person omniscient but instead is relayed in four, barely distinguishable first-person voices. The language is very literary and quite well written, but the narrative voices fail to ring true at the best of times. With its completely unmemorable characters and identical sounding narrators, the only positive thing going for the novel is its moving, sensitive treatment of AIDS victims. Well written, but compared to other works, not exactly memorable.

Click on cover for image source.

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