cover image Laws for Creations

Laws for Creations

Walt Whitman. Picador USA, $13 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-312-42607-1

As the life and writing of Virginia Woolf was the inspiration for Cunningham's The Hours, Walt Whitman, is at the heart of his latest, Specimen Days: he appears as a bearded old man walking on Broadway, and his poetry is read and scrawled on the walls by characters. Cunningham now offers his own selection of Whitman's work-poetry from the first and last editions of Leaves of Grass and prose from Whitman's Specimen Days (from which Cunningham takes the title of his novel) and Collect. Cunningham calls this collection a ""quirky and personal"" introduction to Whitman, meant to present his sensuous and democratic celebration of the nation and its inhabitants (and to explain his significance in Cunningham's novel). Inclusion of the untitled first-published version of ""Song of Myself"" and Whitman's less-studied prose will interest those more familiar with his work, and Cunningham's unique presentation of Whitman's writings-both his own esoteric favorites and the poet's most famous poems-will entice newcomers.