Cunningham, Michael *1952

A Home at the End of the World, 1990 - Transcript of the Interview

  • Hans Fischer    Welcome to SwissEduc. My name is Hans Fischer and my guest is Michael Cunningham. Welcome Mr. Cunningham. People live together as heterosexual couples, same sex couples, and in "A Home at the End of the World" you show a way where three people live together. Bobby and Clare, two heterosexual persons, and Jonathan, a gay person, and they love each other.
    Michael Cunningham    Yeah, they do.
    HF    When they move off to the country, they seem to be the perfect family. Yet you destroy this family. And it's not Jonathan, who does not get any sex, but you have Clare leave and begin a new life. Why don't these three people have the possibility to live together?
    MC    They should have the possibility, it's just not what happens with these particular people.
    HF    Why not?
    MC    Because of who and what they are. Novels are not generally concerned with happy families with whom everything works out just fine. That's not to say there are not happy families of all sorts, including unorthodox ones, for whom everything works out just fine. Fiction, at least the fiction that is most interesting to me, is about our ability to survive, about our ability to go on even when things don't turn out exactly the way we expect them to. And I feel like that's what I turn to novels for. I don't need companionship in my happiness.
    HF    You talk about love in it, something we all want and then you say that Clare's parents were not lovers, they didn't even care for one another. Or Jonathan says, "Love was what ruined our parents. Love had delivered them to a life of mortgage payment and household repairs." What's the matter with love?
    MC    I am all in favor of love. Love will be in all of our funerals. Both of those characters are voicing their skepticism. I think not about love in general, but about a sort of traditional marriages that their parents lived through. Part of what seems important to me in writing about this unorthodox marriage between three people was that it not be romanticized. That it not be read as some kind of pamphlet in favor of a new and better way of loving other people. There are just infinite varieties of same eternal ways for us to love other people.
    HF    Mr. Cunningham, thank you very much.
    MC    It was a pleasure.
  • This interview took place in Provincetown, MA, on July 15, 2006.