Let the Great World Spin by Column McCann
Published by: Random House Publishing
Published on: June, 2009
Page Count: 368
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Reading Format: Purchased hardcover copy with Christmas money from Powells.com – Thank you, Santa!
Available Formats: hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audio book
Today it is my great pleasure to be Colum McCann’s host on his TLC Book Tour for his novel, Let the Great World Spin.
I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours. They always have great books and authors on tour. Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.
August 7, 1974. Life is as usual in New York City until people start to notice something strange in the sky between the Twin Towers. It takes a moment to sink in, but sure enough, there is a man walking a tight rope between the top of the buildings. Not only is he walking across the rope, he’s performing acrobatics as well. It is his act of recklessness and bravery that acts as a bookmark for the lives of many New Yorkers that day. It is from this point that Colum McCann tells the stories of an Irish Roman Catholic monk and his less devote brother, a third generation African American prostitute, a Park Avenue judge and his wife, mothers who have lost sons to Vietnam, and a Latino single mother. The characters and their experiences are as diverse as the landscape and just as rich. As a reader you find yourself holding your breath not only for the funambulist but for hopes, dreams, and lives of all those gracing the pages of Let the Great World Spin.
Even two months after finishing the novel, there is so much I want to say about it. I wish I could say it all eloquently, but I will never finish this review if I tried. Here are the highlights:
- Corrigan, whose character was inspired by Father Daniel Berrigan, is the embodiment of Catholicism for me. He was not perfect, but was perfectly humble in his faith. His love for God was poured out in his love and care for those less fortunate than himself. He became a living example of Jesus among the sick, the poor, and the sinners. While there is every reason these days to turn one’s back on the Roman Catholic Church, it is people like him who make me proud to be Catholic. They are true heros to me.
- The chapter narrated by Tillie was so beautiful and heart breaking that I had to keep wiping away the tears. On top of the emotional impact of her voice and her story, I was reminded over and over again of Molly Bloom’s chapter in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Tillie and her voice will be something I’ll never forget. Just as with Molly Bloom’s chapter, Tillie’s will be something I read over and over again by itself.
- The chapter between the computer nerds and the pay phones was a pure delight. I know people who would have fit most of those characters.
- I am afraid of heights. I haven’t always been. It started sometime in my mid to late 20s. I don’t like to drive over gorges especially for some reason. I am well aware of this, yet I had no real concept of how scared I truly am or how fabulous an author Column McCann is until I read the beginning of this novel. Although I was laying down at the time, I kept groping around me to make sure that I was on something solid. My heart was racing and my anxiety level was high. As irrational as those feelings were, they felt very real. I knew then that this was going to be a wonderful book. It was.
Ever since hearing about the concept of this book, which follows several New Yorkers on the day that Philippe Petit walked between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on a tight rope, I’ve wanted to read it. Until reading the early reviews of Let the Great World Spin, I had no idea anyone had ever done that. I’ve never been to New York City, so my only views of the Towers or Ground Zero have come from television. I have seen the Sears Tower in person, so I have at least a vague notion of how far above ground Petit was when he made that walk. How could I not be fascinated? How could this not be something I would jump at to buy with my Christmas money? While Colum McCann’s novel isn’t as focused on this death defying feat as I had anticipated, it was so much more than I ever hoped. If Let the Great World Spin isn’t one of the top three novels I read this year, 2010 will have proven to be one hell of a monumental reading year for me.
Although I won’t be heading to the BEA or Book Blogger’s Convention in NYC this month, this review does qualify for Jill from Fizzy Thought’s New York Challenge!
Colum McCann’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, May 3rd: Stephanie’s Written Word
Tuesday, May 4th: S. Krishna’s Blog
Thursday, May 6th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Friday, May 7th: Luxury Reading
Monday, May 10th: She is Too Fond of Books
Tuesday, May 11th: My Friend Amy
Wednesday, May 12th: The Brain Lair
Thursday, May 13th: Diary of an Eccentric
Friday, May 14th: Lit and Life
Monday, May 17th: Book Club Classics
Tuesday, May 18th: Beth Fish Reads
Wednesday, May 19th: Book Chatter
Thursday, May 20th: Evening All Afternoon
Friday, May 21st: Brunette on a Budget
Monday, May 24th: Ready When You Are, CB
Tuesday, May 25th: The New Dork Review of Books
Wednesday, May 26th: Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker
Thursday, May 27th: Nonsuch Book
Friday, May 28th: Caribousmom