The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Picador (1998). 240 pp

I must admit, this is the second go-around for this novel. I didn’t reread it, but I found myself thinking about some of the major points within the pages and what I had written and thought about it previously. I had lost track of my aim as a book reviewer. I don’t want to just post what I think of the book and whether I would recommend it or not. I have at least my pinky-toenail in the door of the publishing industry, enough to know that a far cry from every book gets published. That means that every book that is published says something about the author, about the editor and the publisher, and–my interest–about the culture of the society that reads it.

That being said, a book such as The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which was not only published but also awarded the Pulitzer Prize and made into a feature film, must have a lot to say about the culture to which it is targeted. The book was published in 1998, and homosexuality was just beginning to because a hot issue in American society. Each of the eras in this book deals in some way with homosexuality. Virginia Woolf struggles internally with the issue, Laura Brown kisses her neighbor in her kitchen, Richard is a gay man dying of AIDS and living on his own in New York City, and Clarissa lives with another woman and is alluded to from Cunningham as being a lesbian. For the LGBT-activists around the country, this book signifies a positive reinforcement from society.

Another issue in the book is the issue of suicide. Laura Brown attempts suicide, the reader finds out, between the time of her story and Richard/Clarissa’s story. Years later, Richard throws himself out of his window and kills himself the night that he is supposed to be recognized for a writing award.

I’m not sure yet if I loved it. I liked it, yes, and I would recommend it to most people. But, compared to other literature I have read, I’m not sure I would rate it as one of the most important books of the twentieth/twenty-first century. I’ll get back to you on that…


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About katepadilla

I write for the Spencer Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa. I keep blogs lifebythebooks, Save Me, San Francisco, and Beauty and Beast Buy a House. I'm also hard at work writing a short story collection inspired by the music of Train.

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