This blog is dedicated to the amazing staff at the New Canaan Public Library in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Let the Great World Spin by Colm McCann, 2009, * * * * *

Let the Great World Spin is a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. There are dozens of intimate tales and threads at the core of Let the Great World Spin. On one level there’s the funambulist, Philippe Petit, making his way on a high wire across the World Trade Center towers. However, as the story in the novel moves forward, the “walker” becomes less and less of a focal point and you begin to care more about the people down below, on the pavement, in the ordinary throes of their existence. There’s an Irish monk living in the Bronx projects; a Park Avenue mother in mourning for her dead son blown up in Saigon; computer hackers who "visit" New York in an early echo of the Internet;  an artist who has to learn to return to the simplicity of love; and a Bronx hooker who has brought up her children in “the house that horse built”--“horse” of course being the heroin that was ubiquitous in the '70s.  The stories are interwoven so that it is one story..on one day.. in one city.. and yet it is also a history of the time. In Let the Great World Spin, you can’t ignore the overtones for today.  Suffice it to say that the novel is held together by an act of redemption and beauty.  I didn’t want to stop turning the pages.

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