Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham Harper Perennial, $96 Fans of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours may notice brush similarities in Specimen Days. Both pay homage to other writers - Virginia Woolf and Walt Whitman, respectively - and both are linked short stories rather than novels in the traditional sense. They also excel as literary works. In Specimen Days - the title is from Whitman's 1881 book of the same name - New York is the location for the three stories, set in the 19th century, early 21st century and the future. Lucas, or versions of him, appears in all three tales. In the first, he's a semi-autistic child stepping into the shoes of a dead elder brother. In the second, Lucas, who is given to spouting lines of Whitman's poetry, is a child terrorist out to destroy capitalism. In the third, he's an android programmed on Whitman. A few reviewers found flaws, but even their criticisms were qualified. Publishers Weekly said: 'With its narrative leaps and self-conscious flights into the transcendent, [this] fourth novel sometimes seems ready to collapse under the weight of its lavishness and ambition - but thrillingly, it never does.'