By Nightfall – Cunningham and Peggy Lee

Time to make changes?  Are you singing Peggy Lee’s anthem – “Is That All There Is” at the beginning of a new year?  Michael Cunningham’s latest book By Nightfall has a middle-aged art dealer disappointed with his life and looking for the answer, but the story would have made a better short story than short novel.

Someone had commented that the book had a punch of an ending, so I soldiered on.  Somewhere around the middle, I decided I needed to skim through to the end – going back if the wording warranted more information on the plot.  But this book really has no plot – other than a forty something married Manhattan art dealer going through a midlife crisis.

Cunningham knows how to use words, and some of his gems may make it worthwhile:

“Parenthood, it seems, makes you nervous for the rest of your life.”

“… you’re not the first fool for love.”

“I was envious.  I didn’t want to be myself.  I didn’t want to be some mature, levelheaded person who could cut him a check …I wanted to be…Free…”

The ending?  Yes, it has that O’Henry wallop, but takes way too long to get there – and

Peggy Lee

that’s all there is…