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Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
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Let the Great World Spin (2009)

by Colum McCann

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English (224)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  German (2)  Danish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (234)
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
Loved this book....
To me it is about the randomness of life, and how our lives interconnect with people who are nothing like ourselves. ( )
  saradiann | Jun 29, 2014 |
This is a novel that captured one historic moment in NYC- the day an acrobat danced back and forth on a tightrope spanning the two World Trade Center towers. Several different characters interface from different walks of life: an Irish priest, prostitutes, a judge, the judge's wife, the mothers of sons killed in Vietnam, and a hippy. As the story moves from one perspective to another, the historical time period and culture of life in NYC is described in detail. I enjoyed this shifting story line, which was very well written and featured fully developed and flawed but likable characters. ( )
  voracious | Jun 17, 2014 |
So many reviews of Colum McCann’s [Let the Great World Spin] focus on the chance intersection of the characters life, arguing the unseen connectedness of human life. But, for me, McCann’s story says so much more about the colorful diversity of life, so many subtle shades blooming next to one another.

McCann follows the Corrigan brothers, one an Irish Catholic monk of sorts and the other a lost soul trying to save his brother. The Corrigan brothers introduce us to a group of New York City street-walkers, among them Tille and Jazz, a mother-daughter team. Tille and Jazz’ lives are permanently altered in a collision with Lara and Blaine, two drug-addicted artists living in a 1920’s era dream. The web of the story emanates several more silken strands from this center, constantly dancing from a pluck on the opposite side.

McCann himself talked of the book as a description of the human instinct for recovery and joy, and that theme pulses along the strands of his web. One Corrigan brother looks for a way out of youthful bitterness in his sacrifice and care for the lost, while the other tries to find his way in the world by saving his lost brother. Jazz and Tillie put their hope of a better life in their daughters. Lara and Blaine look to their art and their strange way of life for salvation from their addiction. The beuaty of McCann’s story is that his characters find rescue and purpose where they least expect it, as if the web had veiled their eyes from it until the angle of the sun changed. McCann admitted that he wrote the story as a practice toward healing from the 9/11 attacks, his recovery found in telling the story of others recovering.

Bottom Line: Not as much about the universal connectedness of human life as about the colorful diversity of life and the beauty of recovering its meaning.

5 bones!!!!!
A favorite for the year. ( )
2 vote blackdogbooks | May 14, 2014 |
This is a beautifully written book. It is, however, hard to get into because each chapter follows a different new character. The characters' lives all wind up intertwined, but it's difficult to feel very connected to any of them in particular. ( )
  KatieCarella | Apr 12, 2014 |
This is how the author begins his novel about the many unseen connections that we all have with one another.

"All the lives we could live, all the people we will never know, never will be, they are everywhere. That is what the world is." Aleksandr Hemon’s The Lazarus Project.


My favorite quote: "The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough."




( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
This is an exceptional performance by a writer whose originality and profound humanity is evident throughout this highly original and wondrous novel.
 
The lousy feeling that you’ve been duped into buying a bogus product increases as you read Let the Great World Spin, and like all chintzy things manufactured for tourists, the book can’t withstand the slightest amount of tensile pressure. Apply a little scrutiny to the artistic decisions being made, and worse and worse details appear, from the awful prose, which ceaselessly pitches and yaws between staccato bursts of words and breathless run-on sentences, to the gaudy, exhibitionist displays of grief. But tackiest of all is the way that McCann deals with his African-American characters, who come off as nothing more than anthropological specimens.
 
It is a mark of the novel’s soaring and largely fulfilled ambition that McCann just keeps rolling out new people, deftly linking each to the next, as his story moves toward its surprising and deeply affecting conclusion.
...
Here and elsewhere, “Let the Great World Spin” can feel like a precursor to another novel of colliding cultures: “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” Tom Wolfe’s classic portrait of New York in the 1980s. But McCann’s effort is less disciplined, more earnest, looser, rougher, more flawed but also more soulful — in other words, more like the city itself.
 
Gritty yet hopeful... in terms of sheer lyricism, McCann pulls out all the stops. My review copy was an absolute mess of Post-its and marked passages by the time I was halfway through.
 
A book so humane in its understanding of original sin that it winds up bestowing what might be called original absolution... a pre-9/11 novel that delivers the sense that so many of the 9/11 novels have missed.
added by jjlong | editEsquire, Tom Junod (Jul 8, 2009)
 
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Epigraph
“All the lives we could live, all the people we will never know, never will be,
they are everywhere. That is what the world is.”

—Aleksandar Hemon,
The Lazarus Project
Dedication
For John, Frank, and Jim.
And, of course, Allison.
First words
Those who saw him hushed.
Quotations
I knew the Catholic hit parade - the Our Father, the Hail Mary - but that was all. I was a raw, quiet child, and God was already a bore to me.
"With all respects to heaven, I like it here."
"But see, this logical God, I don't like him all that much. Even His voice, He's got this voice that I just can't, I don't know, I can't like. I can understand it, but I don't necessarily like it. He's out of my range. But that's no problem. Plenty of times I haven't liked Him. It's good to be at a disturbance with God. Plenty of fine people have been in my place and worse."
There are moments we return to, now and always. Family is like water - it has a memory of what it once filled, always trying to get back to the original stream.
The war was about vanity, he said. It was about old men who couldn't look in the mirror anymore and so they sent the young out to die. War was a get-together of the vain. They wanted it simple - hate your enemy, know nothing of him.
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Original title: Let the Great World Spin
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Book description
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.

Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth.
Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the “artistic crime of the century.” A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a “fiercely original talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.
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A rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. A radical young Irish monk struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gathers in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. A 38-year-old grandmother turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth. Weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann's allegory comes alive in the voices of the city's people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the "artistic crime of the century"--a mysterious tightrope walker dancing between the Twin Towers.--From publisher's description.… (more)

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Colum McCann chatted with LibraryThing members from Mar 1, 2010 to Mar 14, 2010. Read the chat.

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