Ashley's Reviews > Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
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's review
Nov 11, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, signed-by-author, nyc
Read from October 29 to November 09, 2011 — I own a copy

The book takes place when New York City provided a rough backdrop for daily life: Crime and drug abuse had far-reaching effects on the streets and in homes; families struggled with disillusionment during the Vietnam War from the loss of their sons. No one could completely avoid stepping in the mire that was overshadowing the greatness that New York City had embodied, from the hookers to the misguided artists to the highly esteemed judges. Colum McCann delicately revealed how characters from different political, economic and racial spheres became entangled in one another's lives. The novel spun out from a single event in 1974 when the Frenchman Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers soon after they had been constructed. McCann used Petit's extraordinary act to connect his characters into unlikely friendships where they found strength and hope again.

I especially enjoyed how the beginning of the novel had the feel of various short stories. At first, the reader doesn't know how the characters will become related. As the novel unfolds, the characters become more and more entwined. I read this book on my morning and evening commute on the subway. Several times I fought back tears in such a public space when reading about Claire's inner confusion of how to deal with extreme grief while moving through life into a future that had no meaning for her. McCann uses the most ordinary acts to illustrate big ideas.

Even after I begin to forget the details, the impact the book had on me stays and it keeps coming back to me when I walk in NYC. It's a beautiful portrait of NYC and it's inhabitants. It captures the current that runs through this city. It's impossible not to feel. Even when I relax at home in the evenings, the energy of NYC pulses. The reader feels the city's forward movement in the book, as well.

Excellent book. I highly recommend it!

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Reading Progress

11/07/2011 page 253
72.0% ""You mourn your dead son and you wake up in the middle of the night with your wife weeping beside you and you go to the kitchen, where you make yourself a cheese sandwich and you think, Well, at least it's a cheese sandwich on Park Avenue, it could be worse, you could have ended up far worse: your reward, a sigh of relief." - Solomon Soderberg, the judge"

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