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Group Read Discussions > Let the Great World Spin - Spoilers

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10035 comments Mod
Go Ahead - let the cat out of the bag!


message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments I finished this book today. I wish I liked it more. I feel I should have. Thinking back about it I like it more than I did when I was reading it. Not sure why that is.

The writing is beautiful, no complaints there. My problem was getting involved in the characters lives. I've read other books where each chapter follows a different character and I get engrossed in each but this time I just didn't. Often when one character was going on I was frustrated that I was in their head and not anothers. The result was I felt most characters weren't well developed and I was left wanting.


message 3: by Lahni (new)

Lahni | 290 comments I read this in December so I don't remember all the names but I felt the same. I absolutely loved some of the stories but others were so hard for me to get into. I loved the first story with the Irish brothers so much that I was so disappointed when it changed. The wealthy lady who lost her son in the war was a hard story for me to get into yet at the end she was very significant. The guys in CA making random phone calls was only so-so for me. And yet when I look at them all together that is what makes the story feel quietly significant to me.

I appreciate the glimpse of a moment in time and how it involved people - or not. I thought the book caught that aspect of life beautifully. How someone can feel alone in a room full of people or connected to a bunch of total strangers by a random shared moment. As I'm writing this I'm deciding I like the book better now after it has simmered a while than I did when I first read it. Maybe I'll revisit it in a year or two.


message 4: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments Lahni wrote: "I read this in December so I don't remember all the names but I felt the same. I absolutely loved some of the stories but others were so hard for me to get into. I loved the first story with the ..."

Lahni, I too loved the Irish brothers, the wealthy lady wasn't bad but after just starting to get into her I felt cheated that at the end, though she was significant, we didn't really see her or hear from her again.

I really found those random phone calls a waste of print and ditto with the artist that was involved in the crash. I didn't like the prostitue's section at all. I see she was an important cog in the wheel but the way her section was written was quite offputting.

Which leaves me bound to comment on the writing. I thought it was magnificient how each chapter was told using a different voice and they were so truly different. That's some great writing there. Unfortunately some of the voices just didn't resonate with me. I wonder if each reader was interested in different characters and how much that was influenced by the characters or the writing style.


message 5: by Lahni (last edited Mar 10, 2011 05:32PM) (new)

Lahni | 290 comments Laura - I felt the same way about most of the characters. I did kind of like the subway kid. And I'd totally forgotten about the artist until you mentioned it so that tells you the impression that section left. The prostitute was just to l-o-n-g. It got tiresome. I also really liked the section where the tight rope walker was practicing his craft. I thought that was well thought out. Didn't the girl artist marry the Irish brother?


message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments Lahni - yep she did. After leaving her artist husband (the one actually driving the car) she ended up with the Irish brother. The story ends with her gardening in Ireland. A bit twee but I can see how tying everyone together in the end was an interesting objective.


message 7: by Lahni (new)

Lahni | 290 comments Does the brother ever know she (her husband) is responsible for the accident?


message 8: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments Yes. He figures it out when she takes him to the car that caused the accident after the dead brother's funeral. It is a distinctive old car and there's a big dent on the front. He puts 2 & 2 together.

I don't know if you remember but she also goes to see the dead girl's mother in prison. Nothing ever comes of that. I suppose the point is to show her struggling with the impact of that accident.


message 9: by Lahni (new)

Lahni | 290 comments I do remember it now that you mention it. Weren't the girl and her husband both high when the accident happened? He was a loser. I seem to remember thinking that she might stand a chance if it weren't for him.


message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments They were high. After years of abstinance they decided, for some unstated reason (or one I don't remember) to break the drought. When they got home after the accident (they did a hit and run) the guys solution was to get totally wasted. He was the driving force in that downward spiral but she obviously had played a big role in their earlier declines. I suspect they were both better off without the other.


message 11: by Lahni (new)

Lahni | 290 comments Thats right. Isn't that the way it usually is with those types of couples? They seem to bring out the worst in the other.


message 12: by Odessa (new)

Odessa (sincityreader) The whole book reminded me of the movie "Crash". How all the lives started to mesh into each other,


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

SinCityReader (Odessa) wrote: "The whole book reminded me of the movie "Crash". How all the lives started to mesh into each other,"

I had the same thought when I read it last year. I was excited about reading this book because of all the great buzz about it, but I was so disappointed by it. I didn't care about the characters, probably because their stories were relentlessly depressing. I liked the parts about Petit's tightrope walk, but there were not enough of them. Though I was irritated by the connected short story motif, I thought McCann brought it all together well in the end.


message 14: by RedSycamore (new)

RedSycamore | 9 comments Some of the characters resonated with me more than others, but I loved the writing in this book more than anything else.


message 15: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments Rachel, I agree, the writing was remarkable. Worth keeping an eye out for more books by McCann.


message 16: by Carly (new)

Carly Svamvour (faganlady) | 220 comments I just started it today - only a couple pages in. I think I'm gonna' like it.

Hope I'm not disappointed.


message 17: by Granuaille (new)

Granuaille I have finally finished the book - my personally signed copy - of which I am very proud.

I agree with you all that the writing is wonderful, and that some of the characters seemed to be extra.

I enjoy McCann's style of examining events from different perspectives. I have read his other novels and found that this style was particularly evident inThis Side of Brightness, where he tells the story of the tunnel under the Hudson river from two different periods of time. Indeed, this book is one of my all time favourites and I would heartily recommend it. Songdogs: A Novel is my next best favourite book from McCann.


message 18: by Carly (new)

Carly Svamvour (faganlady) | 220 comments There's a part where the one brother is on his way to the hospital - the other brother goes back to his place - the voices keep coming in - one sentence, it's the hospital, the other sentence, back to the apartment - back and forth, back and forth and it reminds me of watching squirrels, how they cling to the very end of a tree branch in a wind storm - riding the thing just for fun.

Wheeeeeee!

Is this supposed to be different stories - do they not all connect?


message 19: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments Carly wrote: "There's a part where the one brother is on his way to the hospital - the other brother goes back to his place - the voices keep coming in - one sentence, it's the hospital, the other sentence, back..."

Both. There a many stories in this book but they all are threaded together by the accident and the tight rope walk. People of very different backgrounds and with very different lives are all touched by the same events and this gives the author the chance to tie them together.

I know what you mean about the bouncing back and forth, I actually enjoyed it and didn't find it hard to follow. I have to say it doesn't happen as much through the bulk of the book when the stories become more separated for a while.


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