Let the Great World Spin
By Colum McCann
A novel which carries the reader through a series of dramatic scenes in 1974 New York City when Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the twin towers. Each chapter is told from a different viewpoint, and the characters connect in surprising ways. A judge hurries through a routine sentencing so that he can deal with the novelty of the tightrope walker in his courtroom. The criminal charges send a prostitute to jail, while her daughter is set free, only to die in a hit and run crash on the way home. The prostitute’s grandchildren are adopted by a kindly woman, who also befriends the wife of the judge – both are mothers who have lost sons in the Vietnam War. It is an ambitious work, which keeps the reader engaged and brings the gritty streets of New York to life.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
We found this a difficult book to begin. The flawed people and rough situations were disagreeable reading material; however after the first few chapters, the connections between characters became intriguing and we were hooked. It was interesting to see the true historical elements interwoven with the fictional events. 1970s New York City was a character in itself – a reminder of the mean streets before they were cleaned up. McCann does a terrific job of getting inside the heads of both male and female characters, and the little details of their daily lives made the scenes very authentic. Each chapter is written in a different cadence and perspective which must have been both difficult and entertaining for McCann to attempt. Recommended.