Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin

A Novel

Book - 2009 | First Canadian edition.
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Set in 1974, Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of an age -- when Nixon resigned, soldiers returned home from Vietnam, the oil crisis was at its peak and the technology of computers emerged on the horizon. But it is also a brilliant reflection of the present, with its examination of faith, art, love and belonging.

The novel begins one August morning as a tightrope walker makes his way, through the dawn light, between the World Trade Center towers, stunning thousands of watchers below. Using the true story of Philippe Petit as a pull-through metaphor, McCann crafts a portrait of a city and a people. Corrigan, a radical, young Irish monk, struggles with his demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gathers in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who have died in Vietnam, only to discover how much divides them even in their grief. Farther uptown, Tillie, a 38-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined to not only take care of her "babies" but also to prove her own worth.

Elegantly weaving together these, and other, seemingly disparate lives, McCann's powerful allegory of 9/11 comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city's people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty and the tightrope walker's "artistic crime of the century." McCann's most ambitious work to date has already been hailed as an American masterpiece.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers, [2009]
Edition: First Canadian edition.
Copyright Date: ©2009
ISBN: 9781554684823
Branch Call Number: FIC McCan
Characteristics: 349 pages ; 24 cm


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Feb 07, 2020


Aug 02, 2019

Great author- try another book he wrote

Jul 08, 2019

Oh, this book. A big, fat, very stuffed piece of fiction about many (somewhat) connected people in mid '70s NYC. I got some whiplash as I spun from extremes reading it. I settled on 3 stars, but it's an average from the roller coaster of feelings from a 5 from some exquisite writing to a wish-I-could-give-it-a-0 desire to throw the whole tome out of the window. (Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook is my spirit animal.) What I disliked: the entire conceit that held the disparate stories together - Philippe Petit's tightrope walk across the Twin Towers in 1974. Really felt that didn't work at all. Could barely read the chapters centering on it. Also didn't like the heavy handed symbolism at times. And the unrelenting hopelessness that began to feel false. Sometimes the writing was so self-consciously "literary" that I didn't know whether to laugh or scream. What was good: McCann is certainly a masterful and skilled writer. He managed so many voices in this one novel that I couldn't do anything but marvel. His chapter centering on Tillie and the one on Corrigan's lover were astonishing: stunningly real for the first and exquisitely beautiful for the second. Bottom line: very glad I read this. I was in the right mood to wrestle with a book and exercise my sometimes too complacent gray matter. But I'll never look for another title from him.

Mar 19, 2018

A great weaver of the lives of people with six degrees of separation. All tied together by the wire-walker on the World Trade Center.

Jun 09, 2015

A winner of the IMPAC Dublin Award - The author has based his story on an historical event, tying together the stories of 4 different people who witnessed it. I found the characters to be very well developed and their stories were unique. A pleasure.

Oct 04, 2014

A wonderful bittersweet look at life.

Aug 31, 2014

Very best book. Wonderful characters and unexpected storylines.

Aug 15, 2014

Beautiful inter-weaving of characters and time come together for a satisfying conclusion. McCann is a gifted storyteller!

May 29, 2014

this book is damaging,heartrenching.i dont see how he could have told us all about Coregon and then tragicly kill him off,IN THE FIRST CHAPTER!!!!!i would not suggest ever reading it to anyone who can get very attached to characters, Colum Mccann is a SICK CREEP!!!!!

Mar 06, 2014

I'll have to watch the movie Man On Wire again after reading this engrossing and at times heartwrenching book about the intertwining lives of several residents of NYC in the 1970s.

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Jun 15, 2011

The person we know at first, she thinks, is not the one we know at last.

Jun 15, 2011

I gave them all the truth and none of the honesty.

Jun 15, 2011

A row of smokers stood out in front of Metropolitan Hospital on Ninety-eighth and First Avenue. Each looked like his last cigarette, ashen and ready to fall. Through the swinging doors, the receiving room was full to capacity. Another cloud of smoke inside. Patches of blood on the floor. Junkies strung out along the benches. It was the type of hospital that looked like it needed a hospital.

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May 29, 2014

beatrice81 thinks this title is suitable for 25 years and over

Bettylg Feb 04, 2011


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