Flesh and Blood: A Novel [NOOK Book]


This novel follows the Stassos family through four generations, as it is touched by ambition, love, violence, and the transforming effects of time.

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Flesh and Blood: A Novel

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This novel follows the Stassos family through four generations, as it is touched by ambition, love, violence, and the transforming effects of time.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429937559
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/17/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 141,652
  • File size: 571 KB

Meet the Author

Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham is the bestselling author of The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Academy Award–winning film. He lives in New York.


By the time he finished Virginia Woolf's classic Mrs. Dalloway at the age of fifteen to impress a crush who tauntingly suggested he "try and be less stupid" and do so, Michael Cunningham knew that he was destined to become a writer. While his debut novel wouldn't come until decades later, he would win the Pulitzer for Fiction with his third -- fittingly, an homage to the very book that launched both his love of literature and his life's work.

After growing up Cincinnati, Ohio, Cunningham fled to the west coast to study literature at Stanford University, but later returned to the heartland, where he received his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1980. A writer recognized early on for his promising talent, Cunningham was awarded several grants toward his work, including a Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa in 1982, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1988.

In 1984, Cunningham's debut novel, Golden States, was published. While generally well-received by the critics, the book -- a narrative chronicling a few weeks in the life of a 12-year-old-boy -- is often dismissed by Cunningham. In an interview with Other Voices, he explains: "I'm so much more interested in some kind of grand ambitious failure than I am in someone's modest little success that achieves its modest little aims. I felt that I had written a book like that, and I wasn't happy about it. My publisher very generously allowed me to turn down a paperback offer and it has really gone away."

With a new decade came Cunningham's stirring novel, A Home at the End of the World, in 1990. The story of a heartbreakingly lopsided love triangle between two gay men and their mutual female friend, the novel was a groundbreaking take on the ‘90s phenomenon of the nontraditional family. While not exactly released with fanfare, the work drew impressive reviews that instantly recognized Cunningham's gift for using language to define his characters' voices and outline their motives. David Kaufman of The Nation noted Cunningham's "exquisite way with words and ...his uncanny felicity in conveying both his characters and their story," and remarked that "this is quite simply one of those rare novel imbued with graceful insights on every page."

The critical acclaim of A Home at the End of the World no doubt helped Cunningham win the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 -- and two years later, his domestic epic Flesh and Blood was released. Chronicling the dysfunctional Stassos family from their suburban present back through to the parents' roots and looking toward the children's uncertain futures, the sprawling saga was praised for its complexity and heart. The New York Times Book Review noted that "Mr. Cunningham gets all the little things right.... Mr. Cunningham gets the big stuff right, too. For the heart of the story lies not in the nostalgic references but in the complex relationships between parents and children, between siblings, friends and lovers."

While the new decade ushered in his impressive debut, the close of the decade brought with it Cunningham's inarguable opus, The Hours (1998). A tribute to that seminal work that was the author's first inspiration -- Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway -- the book reworks the events and ideas of the classic and sets them alternately in 1980s Greenwich Village, 1940s Los Angeles, and Woolf's London. Of Cunningham's ambitious project, USA Today raved, "The Hours is that rare combination: a smashing literary tour-de-force and an utterly invigorating reading experience. If this book does not make you jump up from the sofa, looking at life and literature in new ways, check to see if you have a pulse." The Hours won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and was adapted into a major motion picture starring the powerhouse trio of Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman in December 2002.

To come down from the frenetic success of The Hours, Cunningham took on a quieter project, 2002's tribute/travelogue Land's End: A Walk Through Provincetown. The first installment in Crown's new "Crown Journeys" series, the book is a loving tour through the eccentric little town at the tip of Cape Cod beloved by so many artists and authors, Cunningham included. A haven for literary legends from Eugene O'Neill to Norman Mailer, Cunningham is -- rightfully -- at home there.

Good To Know

Cunningham's debut novel, Golden States, can be hard to find; check out our Used & Out of Print Store to find a copy!

Cunningham's short story "White Angel" was chosen for Best American Short Stories 1989 -- the year before his acclaimed novel A Home at the End of the World was published.

When asked by Barnes & Noble.com about any other names he goes by, Cunningham's list included the monikers Bree Daniels, Mickey Fingers, Jethro, Old Yeller, Gaucho, Cowboy Ed, Tim-Bob, Mister Lies, Erin The Red, Miss Kitty, and Squeegee.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 6, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cincinnati, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Stanford University, 1975; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1980
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

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( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2006

    Great epic novel!

    I really liked this book a lot and would recommend it to others. It is a little racy in some parts, but from the way Cunningham writes, it just seems like that is what life is like for these characters. It's neat to see how the characters develop over the years.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    A book anyone questioning family should read

    I liked this book. It gives a candid tale of a family over three generations. I think that the trials of the family, and the detail they are described in, pulls you into the story. Life is disterbing, this book relays life, not the impression of life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2002

    Amazing character-driven story

    WOW! That's the first thing that comes to mind about this amazingly well written story. Cunningham makes these characters not only believable, but *real*.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2006

    one of the greatest books i have ever read

    if anyone likes disfunctional family books here's the best of them all. terrific writing and a great plot!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2004

    The poetry of reality...

    The greatest thing about this book is the courage of writing reality with all the words it deserves. Some might call too sexual, to visual and shocking... but, that's the way life is. Umperfect, dirty... and so heartbreakingly beautiful. Cunningham's story about this family makes us realise that ours is not that different... and, by realising that, we get to understand things better... and accept things better. Leave your prejudice behind when reading this book... it deserves an open heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    It's an OK book

    Yeah..this book sort of catches your interest in the beginning, but it drags on later. Also, I think there are too many sexual scenes vividly described in this book. That includes gay encounters, incest, and both--a male cousin gives oral sex to his other male cousin. I don't know. It's pretty disturbing to me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The book was a fun, easy read and just wonderful.

    Michael Cunningham creates a trace of Americana by following one hundred years (1935 - 2035) of three and a half generations of the Mary Guccio and Constantine Strassos marriage.

    Mary is an Italian immigrant and Constantine came from Greece. They meet in the US and they fall in love. They bear three Children: Susan, Billy, and Zoe.

    Originally Constantine struggles to keep bread on the table and is abusive physically with his family; sexually attacks Susan, Billy is his punching bag, and Zoe is such a rare being, he has no idea of what to do with her. She fares the best because Constantine loves to garden, a trait that he shares with Zoe.

    One night in 1963, Constantine meets another Greek at a bar, Nick Kazankakis. They connect immediately and this results in the upward mobility of Constantine. Building track houses and cutting costs they build an empire that makes Constantine very rich.

    Susan marries Todd, her high school sweetheart and they move to New Heaven where Todd is going to Yale. She works to support her husband and is afflicted by infertility, which makes her quite unhappy. Finally she has an affair with their tree doctor, Joel, and after deciding to end the affair, she conceives (either from Joel or Todd) a boy, Ben.

    Billy goes to Harvard and is gay. He is permanently looking for love, until he meets Harry, a cardiologist, with whom he establishes a long lasting relationship.

    Zoe moves to New York, where she befriends Cassandra, a transvestite, who adopts her. Zoe lives a life of the 60's with lots of drugs and sex. She conceives a boy, Jamal, from an African American father she dated for a while. She gets AIDS from her drug use.

    Mary knew that her husband was having an affair with his secretary, and in 1979, when she meets her at the office, she goes ballistic. She gets a separation and later a divorce in 1982.

    Constantine marries Magda, his secretary, to spite everyone.

    A really funny moment is that when Mary calls to inquire about Jamal, Cassandra answers the phone and Mary can relate to the "woman" very well and they form a bond that lasts for the rest of their lifetimes. Even after Mary discovers what Cassandra really is.

    Ben is gay, and to hide it, he learns to sail with his grandfather, Constantine. Zoe is the first to pick on Ben's sexuality as she suspects that Jamal and Ben are having sex. Jamal is straight and just love to have sex, but he finally rejects Ben because it is getting awkward for Jamal to screw his cousin. In the middle of the rejection, with Jamal's dick out and Ben on his knees, Ben is caught in the act by Constantine. After being discovered, Ben decides to go sailing with his grandfather. He sails dangerously fast until they capsize. Instead of picking the boat up, because he can't deal with his sexuality he commits suicide swimming away until he drowns.

    Zoe and Cassandra are both die from AIDS and Jamal is adopted by Billy-who changes his name to Will-and Harry.

    Susan leaves Todd after the death of her son and remarries: at age 45 has a daughter whom she names Zoe.

    The book ends in 2035 as Jamal, now married and with kids is spreading the ashes of Will and Harry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2005

    Very human

    The characters, like actual people, cling to all the changes they experience in effects, relationships, knowledge, and time. The writing is full of knowledge and a gift for observation and its translation. A true telling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2004

    Michael Cunningham's Least Recognized Novel Is Stupendous

    Flesh and Blood is a spectacular novel. This book has heart and soul and I would reccomend it to anyone. Although Cunningham was awarded the pulitzer prize for the hours (also a spectacular novel,) I found this novel to be cunninham at his very best.

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    Posted December 28, 2009

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    Posted January 17, 2011

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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