Book Review: Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann

Title: Let the Great World Spin: A Novel
Author: Colum McCann
ISBN: 9780812973990
Pages: 400
Release Date: June 23, 2009
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Let the Great World Spin is a set of seemingly disparate stories, set in New York City, 1974.  It centers around Philippe Petit’s unsanctioned high wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center.  There’s Corrigan, the priest who lives among the hookers in the Bronx, and Tillie and Jazzlyn, a mother-daughter prostitute team.  Claire is a mother living in a beautiful apartment on Park Avenue with her judge husband, but she can’t get past her son’s death in Vietnam.  These stories and more, seemingly random, demonstrate the interconnectedness between all of us.

Review:

There’s been a lot of hype about Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, and after reading it, it’s easy to understand why.  McCann takes people from different worlds and varying circumstances and throws them into a story in which everyone is somehow connected to everyone else.  It’s thrilling to follow these connections and understand how he weaves each story together, especially since he deals with so many people in such varying situations.

MCann centers the novel around Philippe Petit’s walk between the twin towers, something that actually happened in 1974.  This lends an aura of authenticity to the entire book and brings up interesting questions for the reader.  While this huge event was happening, what was going on with the people down below, watching the high wire act?  The world didn’t stop while Petit was up there on the wire – it kept on spinning.  McCann gives the reader a convincing and beautifully written answer to that question.

In some ways, this book is about the appreciation of ordinariness.  Each person on the ground is living out their own, mundane existence.  Though the lives of hookers in the Bronx and the troubles they must face are likely foreign to the reader, it’s just another day to get through for the characters.  McCann shows us the beauty of individual moments and how it is important to value the every day, what goes on in between the earth shaking events.

I enjoyed Let the Great World Spin – I found it to be a wonderful portrait of New York City and a fitting tribute to the twin towers, brought down by the events of 9/11.  It’s a great work of literary fiction and I look forward to seeing what McCann does next.

Comments

  1. I skim or skip a lot for books I intend to read, so I was surprised to see this one was set in New York.

  2. I skim or skip a lot for books I intend to read, so I was surprised to see this one was set in New York.

  3. I seem to be reading a lot of books lately that highlight the interconnectedness of life and seemingly random events. This one sounds like a great addition / continuation of that trend!

  4. I seem to be reading a lot of books lately that highlight the interconnectedness of life and seemingly random events. This one sounds like a great addition / continuation of that trend!

  5. Great review, as usual, Swapna! I also really liked this book (my review won’t post until the end of the month – but I gave it the same rating as you!). I found the story grew for me as it went along – and became more meaningful as the pages turned.

  6. Great review, as usual, Swapna! I also really liked this book (my review won’t post until the end of the month – but I gave it the same rating as you!). I found the story grew for me as it went along – and became more meaningful as the pages turned.

  7. I was a little scared to see what you would say about this book, because I fell totally in love with it. On audio, it was simply amazing. All of these characters, and their mundane but incredible lives became living breathing people. It most definitely will earn a place in my top reads of the year.

  8. I was a little scared to see what you would say about this book, because I fell totally in love with it. On audio, it was simply amazing. All of these characters, and their mundane but incredible lives became living breathing people. It most definitely will earn a place in my top reads of the year.

  9. I just bought my copy of this book, and I am so excited to read it! It sounds wonderful and I am so glad to see you gave it the thumbs up! Great review! This is a book I am really looking forward to!

  10. I just bought my copy of this book, and I am so excited to read it! It sounds wonderful and I am so glad to see you gave it the thumbs up! Great review! This is a book I am really looking forward to!

  11. I’ve heard all the hype surrounding this one, but had no idea what it’s about. It sounds good to me!

  12. I’ve heard all the hype surrounding this one, but had no idea what it’s about. It sounds good to me!

  13. Does sound really interesting
    Book Reviews

  14. Does sound really interesting
    Book Reviews

  15. Wonderful review, Swapna! I find books like this fascinating, with all the different points of view connected by a single event. I can’t wait to read it now.

    Thanks so much for being on the tour!

  16. Wonderful review, Swapna! I find books like this fascinating, with all the different points of view connected by a single event. I can’t wait to read it now.

    Thanks so much for being on the tour!

  17. I have this on my shelf and I’m dying to get to it, but maybe I should wait until this tour has been over for a bit.

  18. I have this on my shelf and I’m dying to get to it, but maybe I should wait until this tour has been over for a bit.

  19. I am waiting for the audio version of this one from the library as everyone has seemed to have found it amazing. Thanks for supporting that notion.

  20. I am waiting for the audio version of this one from the library as everyone has seemed to have found it amazing. Thanks for supporting that notion.

  21. I very lightly skimmed your review because I’m reading this right now. I’m about 100 pages in and I really don’t think I’m going to be finishing it. Too many errors and and it’s not holding my interest. I know I’m in the minority.

  22. I very lightly skimmed your review because I’m reading this right now. I’m about 100 pages in and I really don’t think I’m going to be finishing it. Too many errors and and it’s not holding my interest. I know I’m in the minority.

  23. I enjoyed it too, but not everyone I’ve talked with has. I think it was better in the earlier part of the book, and lost momentum toward the end.

  24. I enjoyed it too, but not everyone I’ve talked with has. I think it was better in the earlier part of the book, and lost momentum toward the end.

  25. I enjoyed it too, but not everyone I’ve talked with has. I think it was better in the earlier part of the book, and lost momentum toward the end.

  26. I enjoyed it too, but not everyone I’ve talked with has. I think it was better in the earlier part of the book, and lost momentum toward the end.

  27. I’m starting this one today and I’m so happy to hear that it lives up to the hype.

  28. I’m starting this one today and I’m so happy to hear that it lives up to the hype.

  29. Like Sandy, I just love this book. Like to think of it more in terms of hope than hype. 🙂 All of those mundane moments that combine in a collective identity as all look up. Very moving for me.

  30. Like Sandy, I just love this book. Like to think of it more in terms of hope than hype. 🙂 All of those mundane moments that combine in a collective identity as all look up. Very moving for me.

  31. A good read. At the heart of this book of interconnections is Frenchman Philippe Petit’s daring tightrope walk across the Twin Towers on August 1974, New York. Connected in simple ways to this act are stories of diverse characters and people. A delightful balancing act of a novel that grows on you. Read it.

  32. A good read. At the heart of this book of interconnections is Frenchman Philippe Petit’s daring tightrope walk across the Twin Towers on August 1974, New York. Connected in simple ways to this act are stories of diverse characters and people. A delightful balancing act of a novel that grows on you. Read it.

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