“There are still so many stories to be told” – “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann

December 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm 5 comments

Let the Great World Spinby Colum McCann, Published in 2009

Cover of "Let the Great World Spin: A Nov...

Cover of Let the Great World Spin: A Novel

This is the book to read, if you have not already gotten to it.  I will say around page 200 I felt like I was losing my focus but then the book picked up again and it was well worth moving past my lazy reading moment.

In 1974 Phillippe Petit walked a tight rope between the Twin Towers in New York City. McCann uses this true event to propel the fictional stories of his characters in New York City. Each chapter is its own vignette with its own narrator, some told in third person, some in first person.  Though each story seems insulated as you continue to read each character becomes connected to the other characters in the book making a beautiful patchwork of stories and experiences.  And each character is somehow affected by Phillipe Petit’s tight rope walk.

The stories are all touching but what makes McCann’s writing so profound is his ability to jump from prostitutes to Park Avenue housewives, from the lost of a child to the loss a brother, from death to the embracing of life.  He deftly moves through classes, races and gender with an amazing flow and amazing skill.

All of the characters walk a tight rope, as I guess we all do – that straight line of hope that we will be better, be great, or just be true to our goals.  And each character falls off, some landing in a better place than they plan and some not landing at all.  But they each touch the lives of the other characters in a way that makes the reader reflect on how maybe it is not important that we become who we dream we will be. But perhaps it is more important that we just do the best we can and help others, whose lives we touch, reach their dreams instead.  And if they fail while trying then at least we were there to give them hope – maybe that same hope we had lost for ourselves.  Then our most important role becomes standing below, staring up at the towers, and cheering our tight-rope walker on.

                    “The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough.” 

For other reviews on this novel please check these out:

For more on Phillippe Petit please check out the website for the documentary “Man on a Wire.” 


Entry filed under: December 2011 reads. Tags: , , , , .

Stealing children never turns out well – “Hot Springs” by Geoffrey Becker Gosh, rich families have a lot of baggage – “The Legacy” by Katherine Webb

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nella  |  December 12, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I agree with you. I thought this was an incredible book. In South Africa, it had a different cover which wasn’t too eye-catching, so I passed it over a few times. However, I am glad I read it in the end.

    • 2. Emily C  |  December 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      It is amazing how a cover can make all the difference – I am a sucker for a pretty book cover. I am glad you found this book anyway.

  • 3. JohnAdcox  |  December 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Ordered! Thanks.

    • 4. Emily C  |  December 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      You will have to let me know if you like it.

  • 5. dianeledet  |  January 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Beautifully written review Emily! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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