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Extended Audio Sample Specimen Days: A Novel Audiobook, by Michael Cunningham Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.32 out of 53.32 out of 53.32 out of 53.32 out of 53.32 out of 5 3.32 (28 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Cunningham Narrator: Alan Cumming Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2005 ISBN: 9781593977153
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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.

Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sahel Chin | 2/17/2014

    " This was the first book that I read from M.C. I was blown away. There are three seemingly unrelated stories here, but he weaves them together with such a mastery. Its imaginative and well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fiona | 2/16/2014

    " rather weird and bizarre book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamie | 1/22/2014

    " 8 /10 I found this one slightly hard to get into, especially the last story, but the last ended up being my favourite and I have no regrets. This one was quite experimental for Cunningham and I can't help but admire what I feel is a big risk in writing this book, in the sense that he risked losing quite a few of his fans by experimenting with other genres (sci-fi and police-suspense). I was pleasantly surprised and will not hesitate to read his next work of art! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carrie | 1/20/2014

    " Michael Cunningham is one of my favorite authors, but I think I missed the boat on this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carson Andreas | 1/20/2014

    " Amazing. A collection of stories around New York, some in the past, some in the dystopian future. The first story in particular is richly detailed, powerful and moving. Great writing "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adam | 1/16/2014

    " 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 Susan | 1/8/2014

    " I found, to my surprise, that I liked the third of these stories, the futuristic science-fiction-y one, the best. The first story almost made me discard this book because I was very frustrated with the character of Simon's brother. I'm glad I continued with the book, though, because the second and third stories were more enjoyable. I liked that the bowl was a constant in the stories and kept expecting it to be quite significant in one of them, but it pleased me that it wasn't. I think I would have gotten more out of this book had I known more about Whitman's "Specimen Days". Ah well. Still a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Scott | 12/31/2013

    " The three sub-books that comprise this innovative novel unfortunately decrease in quality as the chronology advances. The first section, set in the industrial revolution, shows Cunningham on his most solid ground, spinning an eerie ghost story about a boy who hears the whisperings of his dead brother in the factory machines. The second section is nearly as good, a modern thriller about children who are turned into suicide bombers. Unfortunately, Cunningham caps off the triad with a less successful foray into science fiction than never finds its purpose and never really meshes with the rest of the novel. Despite this miscalculation, the first two-thirds are quite good, and worth a read. "

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

    " Three novellas set in three time periods in New York. The characters have the same names and ages and the reader can draw parallels between the stories. Walt Whitman poetry is referenced in each story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Veronika Hanáčková | 11/30/2013

    " I must read Walt Whitman! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anson Mount | 11/12/2013

    " 3 long stories, loosely connected, the first of which is one of the best things I've ever read. The only reason I put this down for 4 stars instead of 5 is because the last two stories simply don't hold a candle to the first. I'd even recommending buying this book just to read the first section. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rebekah | 9/15/2013

    " I can rarely bear to put a book down unfinished, but I gave up on this one after part 2 of 3. There's an interesting concept behind this book, but it was not terribly well-executed. :( "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheryl | 1/16/2013

    " Only listened to the first of 3 stories. It was wierd but good. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kristina | 1/12/2013

    " I really disliked this book and its sci-fi feel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bbuchan2 | 11/15/2011

    " I read this book one summer during a Biology class, haha...I couldn't put it down, maybe that's why I had to take the class again...It's such a weird look at the past, present, and future... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie | 5/22/2011

    " I rather liked this, but the structure and narration is unconventional. If you liked The Hours, you'll likely be drawn to Specimen Days: A Novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lindsey | 5/19/2011

    " Couldn't finish it. Which is rare. "

  • 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 nonfiction book, Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown. He 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.