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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