Saturday, November 06, 2010

Michael Cunningham: A Homo at the End of the World

Handsome, erudite Michael Cunningham is the author of six novels - Golden States (1984), A Home at the End of the World (1990), 1995 Flesh and Blood (1995), The Hours (1998), Specimen Days (2005), and By Nightfall (2010) - plus an acclaimed work of nonfiction, Lands End: A Walk in Provincetown (2005) which blends history and creative nonfiction to create a portrait of the fabled resort town he loves...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1952, Cunningham attended Stanford University, and later the University of Iowa, where he was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop; his early short stories appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and the Paris Review.

Although openly gay, Cunningham resents (as well he should) being pigeon-holed as a 'gay writer'; despite this, he has always been out. Understandably, there is still a tendency in the conservative book trade to treat a 'gay writer' as a niche writer, to only promote their work in the gay press, and to only stock their works in gay bookstores - stores which are dwindling in number as big box bookstores continue to gobble up their smaller counterparts in an attempt to create a monopoly.

Cunningham, though, has found a wide readership, and deserves much credit for being a gay writer who brings gay characters into the larger mainstream context (despite the threat of being labeled 'hetero-normative' by militants in the blogosphere and beyond). His novel The Hours won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a PEN/Faulkner Award, as well as a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Book Award; it was also made into a smash-hit movie, which won an Academy Award for Nicole Kidman (who played Virginia Woolf in it). He also wrote the screenplay for a film version of A Home at the End of the World.

Partnered for nearly 20 years, Cunningham teaches at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and in the creative writing MFA program at Brooklyn College. He lives in New York City.
share on: facebook


Seumas Gagne said...

I think you know how I feel about the "hetero-normative" label, but for those of your readers who don't…

What Fracking Damage

A bunch of whiny, self-pitying 70s Gays use societal rejection as an excuse for rampant self-destructive behaviour which they label "Gay Culture." As acceptance waxes, the next generation has a better chance at an integrated life and the 70s Gays feel threatened. They should feel that way. The immaturity of their choices is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing decade. As being Gay becomes less and less of an issue, their self identity fades into nothingness because they chose to build their whole identity around being not-straight.

Yeah. That's what people like Joe Jervis are. He's not Gay, he's an Anti-Straight.

Ha ha! Smoke that one, JMG!!

michael sean morris said...

No need to ask Mr, Gagne what he really feels. As the Id to my Ego, he often expresses what I am too diplomatic to say.

I understand how threatened Ghetto gays feel, and how they've arrived at their choices, nor do I have any problem letting them feel that way or living however they wish. While I move almost exclusively in straight circles I am neither assimilated nor hetero-normative. Nor am I assimilated into a ghetto - homo-normative, if I may coin a phrase.

I choose instead to revel in my personhood, in the same way I would rather revel in my humanity - as an Earthling - rather than confining myself to some narrow definition as a Canadian.

Plus, I think Seumas needs a hug.