Category Archives: Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham

Over My Head

“A writer should always feel like he’s in over his head.” Michael Cunningham

That’s not hard to achieve! So as I work on my new writing goals this year, I’ll keep in mind that an accomplished writer (Cunningham’s novel The Hours won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Pen/Faulkner Award in 1999) thinks that heady feeling is what makes good writing compelling. Cunningham writes about the suffering, joy, difficulties and happiness all contained within the writer’s life in an article in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Michael Cunningham

Cunningham’s The Hours

“She is always afraid of getting trapped between floors in this elevator — she can all too easily imagine the long, long wait; the cries for help to tenants who might or not might not speak English and who might or might not care to intervene; the strange numbing deathlike fear of standing there, alone, for a considerable time, in the brilliant, stale-smelling emptiness, either looking or not looking at her distorted reflection in the dim circular mirror fastened to the upper right-hand corner.”

You might want to take the stairs today…

In Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours, he intertwines the stories of three women including Virginia Woolf. In this sentence, he repeats “might or might not” to emphasize that whether the neighbors speak English or you choose to look in the mirror, it will still be a frightening experience. His description makes the elevator tomb-like. Just as with this character, our imagination is often a scarier place than reality.