Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham

Engaging but predicatble

I tend to like a good read so I enjoyed it but others in the group were fairly critical, suggesting that it was written `to a formula’ so that the author felt he had to get everything in: a cold, aloof, strict father and neglectful husband, midlife crisis, divorce and trading in his wife for a younger model, immigrants social climbing, drugs, suicide, unrequited love, falling in love then concerned at parting to go to different colleges, a transvestite, self-harming etc.

However, I found it very interesting to look at a family over several generations and see how people can feel imprisoned in behavioural patterns yet try to beak free.

Some descriptions are very good, for example the look and smell of a flat in the 1960s. There are tasteful sex scenes though a stereotypically odd black man singing in the nude. (And I was irked at the misquotation of a song to read, `It’s not unusual to make love at any time.’)

There is a good description of a gay man who cannot accept his sexuality so goes on one-night stands insisting that he is straight and is merely trying out the `fag stuff’ before his marriage.

There is also a good description of a son whose father criticises his campiness and a grandson who observes this as is scared that he’ll get the same treatment.

If you want a good read, read this – but no if you are a literary critic.

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