Dec 23, 11
When I began this book, I was unaware that a central motif is Phillipe Petit's tightrope walk between the towers of the World Trade Centers, but I could not have been happier when I realized this, as it is one of the most fascinating acts by a human being ever. I loved most of this book, which is a series of interconnected characters' stories, but would have preferred McCann had stayed with the early characters; I didn't find the later characters anywhere near as compelling. A self-sacrificing Irish priest who lives in the projects voluntarily; a mother who works in a nursing home who is the object of his forbidden love, a beautiful prostitute and her mother - these characters worked for me better than the others and deserved an entire book. The chapter when two of the characters fall in love is beautiful and real, and the memories of a prostitute whose daughter ends up on "the stroll" is haunting. The (imagined?) practice sessions of Petit were perfect, but his misadventures getting stuck in the snow were odd and didn't quite fit. This is a large story and leaves you wishing for both more and less. An ode to New York in the 70's, yes, but so much more.