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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  37 reviews
It is the summer of 1976 and Salvo Ursari, a man of retirement age, is walking on a taut wire strung between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center, almost fourteen hundred feet above the city. Far below him in the gaping crowd stands his wife, Anna, to whom he has made a solemn promise: This wire walk will end his career. In this daring moment, Steven Galloway o ...more
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published August 12th 2003 by Carroll & Graf (first published March 25th 2003)
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Heart stopping opening first chapter introducing the reader to Salvo walking a high wire between the twin towers in New York. Wondered if this might spoil the book, knowing the ending, but it did not. Characters were wonderful. Loved Miksa, Salvo's father, and his ability to remain so positive despite his difficult life. He accepted the troubles that faced him and focused on the moments of good. Really interesting picture of Roma life and the conflict with Hungarian gdjaje. This conflict ultimat ...more
This book is an absolute joy from start to finish. After the "heartstopping" first chapter, which reveals how it all ends, we return to the forests of Transylvania and Salvo's dramatic childhood with the Rom gypsies back in 1919. The story is then told quite sparsely and factually, through his orphan childhood in Budapest, his aptitude for acrobatics and learning the "wire", his time with the Fisher-Fielding circus in the US as part of a family death-defying high wire act with its inevitable twi ...more
This book had such potential for magic, and yet it often felt so mundane. Here you have a story centered around the Usari family, and in particular, Salvo-- a man who walks the skies for a living. And while we are told time and time again that this man IS special, you never really feel anything special when reading.

I know Steven Galloway is a brilliant story-teller from his other works. And while his other stories have burrowed under my skin, making me feel all the feels one can feel, this one
Diane Schuller
rising above fears, circumstances ...

I first heard the first chapter read on CBC radio and was hooked! I had to buy and read it.

From the first page to the last, the story of Salvo, a Romanian gypsy cum tight-rope walker, engages the reader with suspense, wonder, loss and survival by rising above his fears and his 'tight-rope' journey through life.

Galloway writes a beautiful novel full of folk tales, fresh metaphors, and above all a sense of beauty in storytelling.

The first chapter stands alone s
- Here he is timeless, one man on a wire far above it all, in a separate place. He is not free, but he is as free as he will ever be. -

- Bury me however you do. I will die standing. -

- Some people believe all animals are good. I do not believe this. I have seen an elephant stalk a man, always watching him with one eye, waiting for him to make a mistake, to get too close. And I have seen that elephant crush his enemy, and I would swear the elephant enjoyed the man's screams and the crunching of
I loved Galloway's Cellist of Sarajevo and wanted to like this one as much - the writing is as beautiful and the descriptions of Salvo's wire life are amazing - as are the Roma tales. But the parts about life in the Fraser Valley on the farm, felt clunky. And Anna didn't really come to life at all. Of course, Salvo wasn't really living when he wasn't walking the wire, but what does this mean finally? As one person wrote, the blocks are all there, but it's not clear what they add up to.

This first chapter of this book grabbed me by the heart and didn't let go.

It tells the story of Salvo, a wire walker who is attempting his greatest feat, walking the wire between the World Trade Center towers. I was practically breathless reading that first chapter.

After that first chapter the book goes back to Salvo's childhood in Transylvania. He is a Rom, a gypsy and as such deals with some unfairness and some prejudice that lead to his becoming an orphan. He is left to his own devices and sh
Brenda Dejong
An interesting story of human nature in a setting and a people we don't often read about - circuses and a Roma family. Sad, inspiring, and thought-provoking.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It unusually starts with the end and in the next chapter it returns to the beginning. The story is beautifully written with rich characters and gripping drama. It tells the life story of a high wire walker, starting with a walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and then tracing his life, from his Romany roots in Hungary, through his circus life and the trials and tribulations of his family. It flowed so well that I found it quite difficult to put d ...more
Galloway works hard to weave a richly-threaded fabric of a story. The first third of the book is riveting. Focus is lost with circus politics, melodrama of secondary (and not the most well-defined, and too many) characters. The book takes a long time to wrap up, and does so in an "epilogue"-ish sort of way. This left me unsatisfied. If you're of a certain age you'll certainly be reminded of the Wallendas...I can't discern why he opens with a WTC walk - and the end of a life - when the rest of th ...more
Karen MacMillan
I absolutely loved this book and found it very difficult to put down so, although I am currently working 12 hour days, I have read it in a little over 2 days. I found the story of Salvo Ursari fascinating and the author totally draws you into the story. At one point I even became quite snappy with my husband because he wanted to discuss something with me and I felt that I was not able to put the book down!

This is the second book by Steven Galloway which I have read (I also read the Cellist of Sa
This is a really GOOD STORY. Heart stopping at times and the descriptions of the high wire acts and the climatic moments were wonderful. I reccomend this one.
This is one of the audio books podcasted out by CBC's Between the Covers in 2008. I am somehow totally inept with subscribing to podcasts, and prefer to wait and download them myself, so I would often let the episodes accumulate until I had a few to listen to at a time. This story follows a roma tightrope walker around Europe and the US in the mid-1900s. It was a good story, though I wonder that perhaps I liked it best because I had it read to me... which is a huge pleasure.
I enjoyed The Cellist of Sarajevo and was pleased to find that this earlier novel was of equally high quality. It is a quirky, unusual, sometimes shocking story. I found the ending really quite moving.
My only complaint was the unnecessary detail given to a very minor part of the story - surrounding the ownership of the circus. I feel this could have been covered far more briefly and not detracted so much from the main story.
Jul 25, 2014 Heidi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Great compelling start, then the story is very slow for a very long time, until the protagonist takes up his role as wire walker. Once it has begun this thread and develops, it is once again very gripping and has you feeling the fear of every wire walk the characters do.
Due to me losing interest for a few months near the start I'm only giving three stars, but I recommend you stick with it!
Rather grim book in many ways The Roma fables are richly done and woven into the book but the main characters seemed flat. I still found it rewarding enough to finish in several sittings as the writing is well done, put together block by block like Legos, sad Legos and not really sure what they built!
Jul 28, 2011 Mel added it
This book was amazing - I loved the characters and it was the first introduction I had to Galloway's writing. My friend Lindsey chose this for a book club from years ago (2005?) and I lent my copy to someone... does anyone remember borrowing this from me, because I really could use it back!
This book was awesome - Lindsey picked it in maybe 2005? for the book club that turned into dinner club. I've lent it to someone and have no idea who. But it was a great read and my first introduction to the excellent stylings of Steven Galloway. Someone, anyone, know where my copy is??
Ticklish Owl
If you liked this book, you might also enjoy Water for Elephants

Listened to on CBC Radio's Between the Covers podcast.
It was only on the ground that he was afraid... so true. Also, people die in nets all the time, without one you know you can't fall, so you don't fall.... If anyone has the exact quotes I would greatly appreciate them! I left my copy of the book at a hostel book exchange...
Barbara Wicks
An amazing insight into the world of tightrope walkers - the author described the walking in great detail. It was interesting to find that the outcome of the walk between the twin towers was described at the beginning of the book.
Carol Rizzardi
I was in total awe of the beauty of The Cellist of Sarajevo, and I had high hopes for another Galloway book. Ascension was good with similar literary qualities of the aforementioned title, but not as powerful.
Maybe a 3.5. Writing style is very fluid, and the characters are interesting (but not particularly likeable). I wish the author hadn't started with the main character's death. I think he should have saved that for the end.
Love Steven Galloway, never disappointed. This is the story of a Roma high wire walker. It follows him from childhood to death, from Hungary to Canada. A lovely story of a man's passion.
Jeff Bursey

for my Books in Canada review. It's negative, in case you're wondering why there are no stars.
I liked this book about Roma's (gypsies). Fire is a symbol in the book. Lots of bad things happen. It gave you a glimpse into circus life and especially walking the wire.
Well-written,entertaining read about a high-wire walker and his friends and family. Even though you can guess the plot twists, you still can't wait to get there
Michael Blickenstaff
A fantastic first chapter that should have stood alone as a short story. The rest of the book was full of stories and characters I wanted to care about, but didn't.
The character of Salvo Usari gives a lesson on focusing on what is essential, not only to survival, but to the dedication to one's gifts.
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Galloway was born in Vancouver, and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He attended the University College of the Cariboo and the University of British Columbia. His debut novel, Finnie Walsh, was nominated for the in Canada First Novel Award. His second novel, Ascension, was nominated for the BC Book Prizes' Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and has been translated into numerous langu ...more
More about Steven Galloway...
The Cellist of Sarajevo The Confabulist Finnie Walsh The Journey Prize Stories 18: From the Best of Canada's New Writers Der Cellist von Sarajevo: Roman

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