2010: 4. Let the Great World Spin

“Those who saw them hushed.  On Church Street.  Liberty.  Cortlandt.  West Street.  Fulton.  Vesey.” 

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann

     I picked this book out of the air for our book club, based solely on the fact that it has won the National Book Award (which frankly did little to recommend it to me - particularly after our book club had read some other award winners that we loathed - I’m looking at you, Veronica and March).  When I realized that it was about Philip Petit’s walk across the Twin Towers, I was even less enthused - I’ve seen Man on Wire, and while I liked it, I felt I knew this story.  Boy, was I absolutely wrong about this one.  This is a marvelous book, and I recommend it to anyone.

     Really, it’s only tangentially about Petit’s walk.  Rather, it’s about a bunch of people living in New York on the day that Petit walked, and the way that they all intersect with each other and how each is, in some way, touched by his magical act.  It is so beautifully written, and (almost) each character is captured in a different yet no less compelling voice.  I loved it, pure and simple.  I’m not always one to go on and on about the writing - it’s story that makes me fall in love with a book - but this is an exception.  Deserved every prize it got.  And my lord, did it touch me.  The second character we follow is a woman whose only son has recently died in Vietnam, and I could not read the chapter without bawling.  I cried on the bus three times trying to get through this one.  I was thinking I’d have to give the book up entirely.  My non-mom book club friends think I’m a nutter, my fellow mom in book club agreed with me, but McCann broke my heart in that section.  And the rest is pretty damn fine too - there was one part that I didn’t really get (the computer stuff - what was that about), and I didn’t adore the young photographer section, either, but there is so much here that is so, so great. 

Date/Place Completed:  January 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction, Book Club

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017