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Extended Audio Sample Specimen Days: A Novel Audiobook, by Michael Cunningham Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.27 out of 53.27 out of 53.27 out of 53.27 out of 53.27 out of 5 3.27 (30 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Cunningham Narrator: Alan Cumming Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2005 ISBN: 9781593977146
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In each section of Michael Cunningham’s bold new novel, we encounter the same group of characters: a young boy, an older man, and a young woman. “In the Machine” is a ghost story which takes place at the height of the Industrial Revolution, as human beings confront the alienated realities of the new machine age. “The Children’s Crusade”, set in the early 21st century, plays with the conventions of the noir thriller as it tracks the pursuit of a terrorist band which is detonating bombs seemingly at random around the city. The third part, “Like Beauty”, evokes a New York 150 years into the future, when the city is all but overwhelmed by refugees from the first inhabited planet to be contacted by the people of Earth. Presiding over each episode of this interrelated whole is the prophetic figure of the poet Walt Whitman.

Specimen Days is a genre-bending, haunting, and transformative ode to life in our greatest city, a work of surpassing power and beauty by one of the most original and daring writers at work today.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caty | 2/9/2014

    " Giving the man who mangled Virginia Woolf one more chance. Industrial revolution historical novel AND future dystopia in the same book? Bring it on. We'll see. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jesse | 1/25/2014

    " I reallllly like Michael Cunningham's writing. he is incredibly ambitious, but his writing seems effortless and is really beautiful, regardless of what he's writing about. I really liked the second story of this what i guess i'd call a genre mash-up? and i knew the stories were already linked up, so i wasn't too concerned or feel it too heavy handed when there were actual linking objects and ideas from each story in addition to general themes. i think MC is a keen observer of emotions, people and i guess humanity. or at least some of the humanity i hang out with. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tom Kulesa | 1/21/2014

    " Noble experiment. Some interesting stuff. Ultimately I couldn't connect to this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beverly | 1/18/2014

    " Michael Cunningham may be the best prose stylist writing fiction today. Yet the shimmering beauty of his prose is wasted on a world view that borders on nihilistic. Specimen Days, named for a work by Walt Whitman, traces the decline and extinction of humanity from the industrial age, where men and their lives are eaten by machines, through the present where children are turned into monsterous killing machines, to the future where humananity is gone and all that is left on earth is a humanoid cybourg and a dead alien bioform. Man has become machine. Throughout the 3 sections (past, present, and future), Cunningham uses Whitman's celebration of man and nature to contrast with the creeping death of humanity. The writing, the structure of this novel amounts to a tour de force. The message, not so much. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shaina | 1/18/2014

    " Such a disappointment after the Hours. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/16/2014

    " As The Hours is one of my all-time favorites, I really wanted to like this. Didn't. It's strange, disjointed and kind of silly. Not being a huge fan of poetry, I did not connect with Walt Whitman the way I did with Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Oh well, Michael Cunningham is still a god in my book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 12/27/2013

    " I didn't not like this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Josh | 12/25/2013

    " Just awful. How could the author of The Hours and Flesh and Blood think this pile of crap was a good idea? It actually made me angry to read it, and I apologize to my book group for putting them through it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theo | 12/21/2013

    " Ok, follow-up to The Hours, has a time leaping and common thread similarity to The Hours, with a past, present and then an extremely futuristic story entwined together. Loved it, but I can see why reviews were so negative, as third story is tough sell. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joann | 11/8/2013

    " Great writing, great storytelling, fantastically woven together. I really liked this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie McCleary | 11/3/2013

    " I wept at the end of this book. You will like it if you can swallow genre bending forms, a love of Walt Whitman, and have an open mind. I wept, that's all I'll say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darrell | 10/18/2013

    " loaned to me by a nurse supervisor...walt whitman from manhattan sweatshops to alien nannies "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 10/15/2013

    " Short stories that would be more interesting if I'd read Leaves of Grass. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy | 8/31/2013

    " I didn't like it as much as The Hours - but then again, I loved that book, so it might not be a fair comparison. Overall, though, very good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 7/8/2013

    " Well written, another good read by Michael Cunningham. I can't say it resonated with me as much as The Hours - but I enjoyed it and admire his writing talent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Warren | 4/30/2013

    " Weaves excellent prose. The human element shines through, even when dealing with non-humans. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tony Laplume | 11/5/2011

    " Intriguing trilogy of stories surrounding three different men named Simon and their efforts to claim a life that appears to be denied them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Marley | 6/7/2011

    " I just love Michael Cunningham and his ability to link things that don't seem to be connected. This collection of short stories is no exception. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara Roden | 5/29/2011

    " Despite the book's subtitle, this isn't a novel; it's three distinct novellas, linked by subtle threads. The first, 'In the Machine', is the best, a ghost story in which Walt Whitman figures. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lucas | 4/21/2011

    " I'm not gonna lie, I only read the first two of the three novellas - once I read about lizard people, I shut the book. I'm not opposed to science fiction, nor am I opposed to historical fiction, but Michael Cunningham should stick to contemporary portraits. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William | 4/8/2011

    " Beautiful book. It also introduced me the fantastic Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Anyone that achieves that is brilliant in my book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zarb | 3/10/2011

    " This is a great book, to describe it as three stories with recurring themes and characters would be to reduce it, it's not an intellectual exercise, yet it is a smart piece of writing. Frequently dark, sometimes quite touching, never dull and populated by beautifully rendered characters, "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judybrown0013 | 2/25/2011

    " Beautifully written. This is three novellas that take place in different eras (past, present, future) with characters who have the same names but aren't related to the forebear. That made it difficult for me, as I "do" novels for the story - each story ended and you wanted more.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adam | 1/12/2011

    " This was my favourite book for a long time. I'm not sure what is now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon | 1/11/2011

    " I want to like it but can't wait for it to be done. Let's see if my book club can shine the light on this thing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 12/31/2010

    " Wow, wow, wow. What a read! This novel of three novels is engaging and interesting; I couldn't let go. In particular I loved the second section, "The Children's Crusade."
    Though I really wanted to finish this book, I'm now sad that it's over. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barry | 11/26/2010

    " oddly effective book. not as straight on as The Hours but very well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Candice | 10/28/2010

    " This book was a 4 star rating until the last part of the book. It felt like there was such a disconnect from the other 2 portions of the book that I wouldn't be surprised if someone else had written that portion. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Denise | 10/3/2010

    " I had trouble with this book and I feel like I'm missing something. Each story was fine but I just didn't think it was all that... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cruz | 10/1/2010

    " Great use of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. I would have never thought three entirely different time periods could relate so much to his work whether it was narration, dialogue or character depiction. It really opened my eyes to the beautiful themes of the poem as well. "

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About the Author
Author Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. He lives in New York, and teaches at Yale University.

About the Narrator

Alan Cumming is an award-winning actor, singer, writer, producer, and director. He recently starred in an acclaimed one-man staging of Macbeth on Broadway and appears on the Emmy Award–winning television show The Good Wife. Cumming won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the Emcee in the Broadway musical Cabaret. He is the winner of the 2015 Audie Award for Best Autobiography/Memoir narration and Best Narration by the Author Award as well as an Audiofile Earphones Award. He hosts PBS Masterpiece Mystery and has appeared in numerous films, including Spy Kids, Titus, X2: X-Men United, The Anniversary Party, Any Day Now, and Eyes Wide Shut.