Saturday, March 20, 2010

20 March -- "Let The Great World Spin"

Colum McCann won the 2009 National Book Award for this intricate, poignant, vivid novel set in 1974 New York City. On a sunny August morning, people become aware that something extraordinary is happening. As they turn and look up at the World Trade Towers, they see a tiny speck, a man first on the ledge of one of the towers, then on a wire stretched between them.

We learn about several of these viewers during the course of the day. Each section features an individual or a small group: a radical "liberation theology" priest, some prostitutes, a judge, grieving mothers of sons killed in Vietnam. With elegantly simple prose, McCann takes us into their lives.

The great achievement of this novel, however, is in the way in which he draws connections between his characters. Just as the tightrope walker threads his way from one tower to the other, the threads joining some of the watchers -- surprising and touching -- are connected.


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