Saturday, November 7, 2009

One - Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann

New York City. August 17, 1974. Downtown. World Trade Center. - A man walks across a wire strung between the newly constructed World Trade Center towers. The city stops to watch.

Let the Great World Spin explores the interworkings of how one event can impact many different people. From an Irish monk struggling with his vows to a group of mothers grieving for their sons they lost in Vietnam, to two hippie artists which cause an accident on the FDR, to prostitutes on the streets of the Bronx trying to just make a living.

Colum McCann weaves the many different characters together in ways you never expect as he moves throughout the book. Behind the scenes - the city is watching a man attempt an impossible feat.

I originally picked this book because I cataloged multiple stories (Alan Cheuse review and Tina Brown recommendation) done on NPR about this author and book. Plus the setting of New York City in the 1970's seemed fascinating to me. I was not disappointed. This book is the best fiction novel by an author I have never read before. Colum's way of linking the different characters together in one story line was amazing. At one point I didn't realize that the hippie characters were linked to the first story about the Irish monk until half way through that chapter and I had a lightbulb moment. From then on, I was curious how he was going to connect everyone together.

Here is a short news report from August 1974 of the man who walked across a wire between the towers of the World Trade Center:

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