Monday, September 21, 2009
LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN
TITLE: LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN
AUTHOR: COLUM McCANN
On the 7th of August 1974, Phillipe Petit stretched a wire between the, as yet unfinished, Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and walked across, watched by thousands.
This book tells the fictional(ised) story of his performance and of the lives of several other, apparently unconnected, individuals in New York at that time.
Each person's story is told from their individual point of view, in their own voice. And as we read the stories of an Irish monk, a hooker, a young married couple,and a woman living on Fifth Avenue mourning her son who died in Vietnam, among others, we see that our lives are never as disconnected from those of others as we might assume.
A lot has been written about how this book reflects the events of 9/11, and of course it is true that that was another big event involving the Twin Towers. And event that heralded the demise of the Twin Towers, as opposed to their start. And event that also connected unexpected people in unexpected ways.
Still, I would like to think that this book would have been an equally great read had the Twin Towers still been standing.
Yes, the fact that they were destroyed in such a horrendous and violent way with such a tragic loss of life gives this book an added poignancy.But, the picture McCann creates of New York in the 1970's is strong, beautiful and heartbreaking enough to stand on its own merit.
McCann is a master at painting pictures and people with words. He picked me up and placed me in a world I knew little or nothing about.He made that world and the people in it come to life for me. He doesn't use fairy-tale endings for his characters and for that I'm grateful because it makes the story more real, the read more satisfying and the characters more lifelike than you find in most books.
This book comes highly recommended and I'm delighted I bought my copy. I would have hated to have to give this book back to the library.