Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown by Michael Cunningham 2002
One of the most enjoyable elements for me in deciding what to read next is the combination of serendipity and connection. In the case of Cunningham’s delightful personal take on Provincetown, the connection was from Liza Ketchum’s epigram of a Stanley Kunitz poem to ‘The Wild Braid’ by Kunitz since the poet had a summer home on Commercial Street in Provincetown for more than 40 years. So when I was back in Cambridge last week for a few days, I noticed Cunningham’s book on my shelf where it had probably sat for several years and with Provincetown and Kunitz on my mind, I read it. There I discovered another connection since Cunningham cites Thoreau’s book ‘Cape Cod’ and the Bard of Concord was also cited repeatedly by John McPhee in his book about the bark canoe. Connections over connections.
If you’ve ever been to Provincetown, you’ll enjoy this one. From the natural history of the outer Cape (lots of skunks!) to the poets and artists who turned this Portuguese fishing village into an artists’ colony in 1916, Cunningham mixes history, personal memoir, and literature to fine effect. I learned that Eugene O’Neil wrote most of his plays in Provincetown where many of them had their initial performance. I also learned that Norman Mailer had a year round residence there as well.
Lots to learn and much to enjoy in this volume.