Kristen's Reviews > Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
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's review
Mar 21, 2011

really liked it

My dear friend Russell places this book in his Top 50 books of all time (this is an example of one of the many reasons why I love Russell -- he doesn't have a Top 5 or Top 10 book list, he has a Top 50!), and I think I would have to do the same. It's a beautifully written book that highlights the lives of a dozen or so characters whose stories are interrelated and interwoven with one another around one single event -- Philippe Petit's historic tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. But the book is only minimally about the tightroping event itself, and more about the people whose lives are changed, directly or indirectly, on that day. Each character was distinct and fully formed, and while there were a couple of characters whose stories I might have omitted (only because I didn't feel like their inclusion really added much to the story), on the whole it is wonderful. Moving, heartfelt, and ambitious in its scope.

I had one tiny little quibble with the book -- that the character Claire was supposed to have gone to Yale in the 1950s, but women weren't admitted to Yale College until 1968. It's a small thing, but there are enough Yalies in the publishing world that someone should have caught that at some point along the way. :)

We unexpectedly had a death in the family, and I found myself reading and finishing this book while in New York, which I certainly hadn't anticipated. It added a deeper resonance to the book, being back in New York for a memorial, and at the same time driving past the former World Trade Center site. Even if you haven't been to New York or you don't have a strong connection to the city, I would recommend it. Ultimately it's about the connections between all of us -- flawed, vulnerable human beings -- and the visions we have for our lives and ourselves.
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message 1: by Maggie (new)

Maggie This is a very nice review Kristen! We recently watched "Man on Wire" a documentary about this event so I have an interest in reading this!

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