Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let the Great World Spin

by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin: A NovelI'm sitting here trying to think of what to write that would do this book justice. How do I describe this story with the same eloquence in which it was told? And will I tempt you, my blog reader, enough to make you pick up Let the Great World Spin? To initially hear the synopsis might not be convincing enough. Plus, when I say that it took me almost a quarter of the book to become emotionally involved and attached to the story, you may say that your time is too valuable. But I need you to read this book. I promise it is worth every minute of your precious time.

I'm a little late with my review. Great World was released in December of 2009, reviewed by my friend Ed in April and recently voted his 2010 Fiction Book of the Year. Anyway, for those who don't know, the heart of the story revolves around Philippe Petit and his 1974 tightrope walk across the World Trade Towers. A series of people are introduced and, while their lives overlap slightly, in the end they converge into one of the best told stories I have read in a long time. Publisher's Weekly can synopsize better than me:

"Petit appears in the courtroom of Judge Solomon Soderberg, that sets events into motion. Solomon, anxious to get to Petit, quickly dispenses with a petty larceny involving mother/daughter hookers Tillie and Jazzlyn Henderson. Jazzlyn is let go, but is killed on the way home in a traffic accident. Also killed is John Corrigan, a priest who was giving her a ride. The other driver, an artist named Blaine, drives away, and the next day his wife, Lara, feeling guilty, tries to check on the victims, leading her to meet John's brother, with whom she'll form an enduring bond. Meanwhile, Solomon's wife, Claire, meets with a group of mothers who have lost sons in Vietnam. One of them, Gloria, lives in the same building where John lived, which is how Claire, taking Gloria home, witnesses a small salvation."

My favorite characters/plot lines were Lara and her struggle with forgiveness and guilt, and Tilly, who did the very best she could with the cards she was dealt. The parallels McCann made with 9/11 are evident and truly fantastic. I found this video interview he did and it's worth the six minutes it takes to watch. Do so, then go get this book.

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