Saturday, February 27, 2010

Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is the winner of the National Book Award... It was also chosen by the American Library Association as one of the top ten notable novels of 2009 (and we all know that librarians have exquisite taste)... It has received a ton of praise from all your typical review sources and other award-winning authors... But all of that does not magically make it a good read. Which is why I'm here... to tell you that I think it's a pretty safe bet that you will, indeed, not just like, but love this book.

The arc of the novel follows a handful of characters whose lives intersect in one way or another on a fateful morning in 1974 when a man strings up a tightrope between the Twin Towers and dances his way across. Though it is not clear right away how all the characters will come to be involved in one another's lives (one of my favorite parts was trying to figure it out as I read), McCann deftly draws on the universals of humanity in his portrayal so that we can all relate in some way to his charges. There is Corrigan the Irish monk (of sorts) who lives in squalor among the prostitutes in Brooklyn and allows them to feel human if only for a moment. There is Tillie the prostitute who works the line with her daughter. There is the tight rope walker himself (based on Pilippe Petit) who trains for years to pull off one of the greatest outsider art stunts in the history of the world. There are, too, a host of other characters McCann gives voice to who you will remember long after finishing the book.

All of this is to say, believe me, you will love this book.

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