CBR11 Bingo Square: Rainbow Flag
Truth be told, for the Rainbow Flag square I was hoping to read Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham (is the movie adaptation with Colin Farrell worth watching? I didn’t know this existed and well, Mr. Farrell is a big draw for me, I must admit), but sadly our local library didn’t have that novel. However, they DID have By Nightfall, and no matter the subject, Michael Cunningham is still LGBT+, and I DO have a strange thing for stories about a long-established relationship dynamic being shifted by the introduction of someone new(ish?) to the mix, which is what the synopsis hinted at here. So why not?
The focus of this story is on Peter, a mid-forties art dealer who lives a comfortable (if slightly detached) life with his wife Rebecca in New York, and with a somewhat estranged daughter across the country. However, when Rebecca’s younger brother, Ethan (called “Mizzy” as a nickname meaning Mistake, as he was born almost 20 years after the rest of the children in the family) comes to stay with the couple, claiming to be clean of drugs for the first time in a long while, things get thrown for a loop: Peter can’t help but feel a change in how he views his life and relationships.
Now, normally, as I said, I love stories where a routine gets completely demolished by the introduction of someone (or something) new, because I love the potential drama of it all. However, despite the short length of this novel (238 pages), it felt like it slogged along extremely slowly. It honestly felt like a little but of a chore to get through big sections of it. I found the protagonist to be largely unsympathetic in how he viewed others (and maybe that’s the point?) for so much of it until the very last fifth or so of the novel, and by then I didn’t feel enough time for my feelings to really change with him, or feel a sense of journey with him. There was also a lot of information regarding Peter’s job that I just found to be so boring (and I’m an artist myself, so you’d think I would be interested in the inner-workings of the art world a little more, right?). I was just extremely uninterested in what was being given to me the whole time.
However, I can’t give this a terrible one-star review (okay, we will leave it at two) because there were some interesting subjects touched on; in particular, right near the end there is the introduction of the idea that while Peter has been so self-focused, he has missed the issues and struggles of those around him, which he would have noticed if only he wasn’t so caught up in his own drama. But unfortunately, nothing really stuck for me, and I can see myself forgetting this book soon.