For your consumption.
Another one of Cunningham's books, The Hours, featured 3 interrelated, interwoven stories that all involved Mrs. Dalloway. Specimen Days is slightly different in that the stories are separated in the book. This book revolves around Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass--I haven't read Leaves of Grass, and I have read Mrs. Dalloway, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. One note of caution is that Specimen Days is CREEPY. I had to stop reading it before bed after 2 nights of scary dreams involving industrial era factory machinery and burglars with guns.
Also, I guess the title of Cunningham's novel comes from Whitman's published diary.
Cook: Roasted eggplant and tomatoes with penne and ricotta.
I like to use whole wheat penne instead of rigatoni, but it's not a big deal. Whatever you do, please use fresh ricotta (it's definitely available at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and probably most nicer supermarkets [not with the pre-sliced cheese, but with the cheese blocks like brie, etc]). And the fresh basil is a really nice addition too.