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Let the Great World Spin Paperback – 7 Sep 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (7 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408800497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408800492
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.8 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Colum McCann, originally from Dublin, Ireland, is the author of five novels and two collections of stories and has won numerous international literary awards for his writing. His film Everything in This Country Must was nominated for a short-film Oscar in 2005. Zoli, Dancer and This Side of Brightness were international bestsellers and his latest novel, Let the Great World Spin, won the 2009 National Book Award. His fiction has been published in twenty-seven languages. Colum McCann lives in New York.

(Photo credit: James Higgins)

Product Description

Review

`McCann's fiction becomes an allegory for the shock and aftermath of 9/11, for the city's fall and its own equilibrium... McCann is at home in all of the lives he explores... It has an epic and messy scope- at times it puts you in mind of DeLillo in full stride- but it is always startling in its particulars... McCann backs himself to step out into the spaces his novel opens up and it is always thrilling to follow him.' --Observer, August 30, 2009

`This is not a novel about Petit, but an exploration of the resonance between his spectacular walk and the ordinary lives of New Yorkers... McCann makes his prose dance across the surface of this ingeniously constructed novel. He is a fearless writer. experimenting with narrative styles, leaping from one story to the next.' --Daily Telegraph, September 12, 2009

`The true story of Philippe Petit's astounding tightrope walk is the pivot for the narratives that balance and collide in McCann's impressive book... McCann's prose can have the same effect as turning a corner and finding a man walking between skyscrapers: it can stun and surprise... a novel filled with achingly fine writing... McCann's luminous fiction.' --The Financial Times, October 3rd/4th, 2009

`A wow of a novel - rich, humane, brilliantly written and as deep as it is wide.'
--The Times, September 12, 2009

Review

'Every character...grabs you by the throat and makes you care. McCann's dazzling polyphony walks the high wire and succeeds triumphantly'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Mingo Bingo VINE VOICE on 31 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 1974 Phillipe Petite strung a wire between the Twin Towers and for a couple of hours walked in the air between them. The act reverberated through history as the greatest piece of art history ever conceived and forms the vignette around which this complex novel revolves.

The image of the man on the wire haunts the novel, as the characters talk about him, watch him, try him, and are inspired by him.

Corrigan, a monk, torn between the love of a woman and the love of God. Jazzlyn and Tillie, the mother and daughter hookers, who he allows to use his toilet. Claire and her husband, Solomon, grieving for the death of their son in Vietnam. This is an ensemble piece, built up from a range of people who are all affected, directly or indirectly, by Petite's stunt.

The book is so beautifully written, so pitch perfect, that it is a joy to read. The characters voices, all distinct, but joined by a weariness, express real emotion and despite the inherent sadness of the subject matter are exhilarating.

Although the stories interconnect, often leading one into another or events from one having repercussions in one much later, the story never feels forced or searching for a tidy solution. Only Fernando, the thirteen year photographer seems incongruous and unneccessary, everything else has it's place and purpose.

It was would be easy to call this a 9/11 novel, but whilst the act is present in the future of the Towers, this is a celebration of a willful and artistic piece of terrorism, not a destructive one.

This is one of the best books I have read this year, if not the best. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. P. Woodhams on 5 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
I admired the literary, accessible use of language, the clever links between characters, the brilliant plot and McCann's fantastic ability to inspire a real sense of awe and compassion. The way in which a real historic event combines with everyday lives is remarkably well handled. The story unfolds in a multi-layered, very satisfying way and parallels with future events to add a further dimension. I had to stop reading the chapter about the actual high wire performance as I was on an aeroplane at the time, well above the highest buildings of New York and it all became a little terrifying! Elements of the ending were perhaps less than plausible but otherwise this is a brilliant book, hugely enjoyable and one I would consider as one of the best I've read in two years or more.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lucy Talk on 22 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
A series of stories about the intertwined lives of New Yorkers, this book captures the essence of the city. The act that knits these lives together is a high wire walk between the twin towers, yet this momentous feat seemed strangely underplayed. A struggling Irish monk who falls in love, a group of grieving mothers, a huddle of New York prostitutes - the characters seemed predictable and one of the book's central themes - of loss and longing - only left a fleeting impression. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't read it again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By scotsgirl on 5 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
Americans talk about 'post-9/11 books' and this one feels as though it falls into that category. I was initially unconvinced by its style of leaping from unconnected New York person to unconnected New York person. Of course they end up being linked in all sorts of ways that I found partially delightful and partially contrived. This book creeps under the psyche of the city, and most of the characters are slowly but beautifully drawn. I ended up being compelled by the stories, and bought it for others. My partner, who had listened to me complaining that I didn't like it at the start, refused to read it because of this, despite my attempts to rescind my negativity. A real shame. This is a book that grows on you, and actually, it is excellent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Johnny TimeBomb on 24 July 2010
Format: Paperback
I can't recommend this novel highly enough. McCann's prose is near perfect, lyrical and beautiful. He weaves the lives of a dozen or so brilliantly realised characters together using the device of their shared experience of witnessing Philippe Petit's high wire walk between the twin towers of the WTC in 1974. Each character has a distinct and utterly convincing voice and a captavating story or point of view to share. McCann captures a real sense of time and place. This is just a brilliant piece of work from a great author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on 18 May 2010
Format: Paperback
One of the best books I've read in years: engaging storytelling, the strands move this way and that, intertwining and separating again like seaweed in the current, but firmly rooted in the rich back-ground of New York in the 70s. Although some characters are based on stereotypes, somehow they all come to life, so that on the one hand you experience a sense of loss when you've read the last page, but on the other hand you feel enriched for having "met" them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Angus Campbell on 4 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
For a number of years I have been particularly impressed by the work of Colum McCann but for me this is his greatest achievement so far.Set against the background of Phippe Petit's amazing tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in 1974,the novel focusses on the lives of various New Yorkers who are all in some slight way connected with the Frenchman's acrobatic feat and presents to the reader in highly poetic,moving and yet humorous language their sorrows and aspirations often linked to the political and social upheavals of seventies America(the Viet Nam War,the dispossession of Blacks)which make each of the characters credible and involving.Essentially the book tells the story of New York at a particular moment in its history evoking memories of Joyce's Dubliners and Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz.
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