Thursday, 1 October 2009

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann


About a fellow on a tightrope at the World Trade Center, I heard?
A bunch of connected stories riffing on that central image - Philippe Petit really did dance on the high wire between the recently-built towers for 45 minutes early in the morning of August 7, 1974, a quarter-mile above ground, watched by spellbound New Yorkers.
It’s not about him? Confused now
He appears in the linked stories, the first about a saint: Corrigan, an Irish worker monk living among the New York prostitutes who are his friends. Corrigan’s brother, who tells the story, becomes entranced by Tillie and her daughter Jazzlyn, two of the prostitutes.
Uh-oh. When men write about prostitutes, they die
The omens aren’t good, I’ll admit. Then there’s a story about a group of mothers of men who have died in the Vietnam War. Two of them, upper-class white lady Claire and dead-solid black lady Gloria, are moving towards a tentative friendship in this sometimes catty milieu.
Very 1970s
And an arty couple, travelling back from a failure to sell their paintings and smoking dope who tip a van, cause it to crash. The man immediately absolves himself from guilt; the woman goes to the funeral of the people killed in the crash.
Worth reading, you reckon?
Su Perb. Couldn’t put it down. McCann has a way of tenderly drawing you into a world where terrible things are happening to people you care desperately about.
Famous writer, I think, eh?
Multi-award-winning writer’s writer - Paris Review published extracts from Let the Great World Spin and it was longlisted for the Booker. But don’t let that put you off; it’s a beautiful book. I came across him first when he wrote a column for the Evening Press while cycling across America as a teenager - amazing stories about backwoods psychopaths and the like. Buy this. Read it.