Saturday, July 25, 2009

Review: "Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann

It's funny: I thought for some reason that I would have a lot of time to read and blog this summer. That statement couldn't have been further from the truth! Although I am off of work for the summer, my three little boys are, of course, off too and demand constant entertainment. We've been to our nearby beach several times, as well as the park, the duck pond, the waterpark and friends houses! All of this running around has kept me busy, and although I always have a book with me, a lot of reading doesn't always get done! To be fair, though, I have re-read two of my favourites this summer ("Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue"- both by Emily Giffin) as well as a book that I haven't read before ("The Lovely Bones") which was wonderful, but I didn't get a chance to review. So, I guess that I been reading, just not blogging about everything!

I recently read a book, though, which I couldn't possibly think about not reviewing! Colum McCann's latest "Let The Great World Spin" has been glowingly reviewed by many sources and has made its way onto Oprah's "Must Read Summer Books" list. After having a chance to read this myself, it's not hard to see why. McCann's latest begins as onlookers in New York in 1974 stop to gawk as a man begins a tightrope walk on a wire strung between the Twin Towers. The onlookers quickly realize that this tightrope walker intends to walk all the way across with no hidden wires or supports- a death wish if the onlookers have ever seen one. As the walker begins his perilous journey from one side to the other, a collection of stories unfolds on the ground below. A priest from Ireland has a soft spot in his heart for the hookers of New York and struggles spiritually as he falls head over heels in love with a local nurse. An aged hooker and her daughter with two young children of her own work the streets and search for their next high. A rich woman mourns the loss of her son in war while a black woman in the projects mourns the death of both her marriages and her sons. An artist attempts to escape from her hard-partying past, which eventually led to the death of two people. These stories intricately intertwine, giving us a varied snapshot of the people of New York, from the bottom to the top. Throughout, the tightrope walker continues his precarious walk on the wire.

This was a beautiful book, a triumph of stories brought together and made to fit with one another like a puzzle. Throughout the book I would gasp (literally out loud) when a new connection was made between people who seemingly had nothing to do with one another. Poetic throughout (I would cite examples, but there are just too many to choose from), the writing was beautiful, even when the subject matter was not. It was a reflection on what it is like to be a human being. All life on earth has value, regardless of how it first appears.

I can only recommend that every reader out there picks up a copy of this book for themself (you can browse inside of it here). It will be one of the most talked about books of this year, I can guarantee it. Thank-you to Deanna at HarperCollins for sending me this ARC! If you've had the chance to read this book, I would love to know what you thought of it, so leave me a comment!

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