Setting: New York City, New York (United States)
Published: November 30, 2009 (first published January 1, 2009)
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Paperback: 375 pages
Literary Awards: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2011), National Book Award for Fiction (2009), Ambassador Book Award for Fiction (2010), NAIBA Book of the Year for Fiction (2010), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction (2009)
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.
Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.
Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth.Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the “artistic crime of the century.” A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a “fiercely original talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.
The book opened with a few pages about a tightrope walker walking across a wire between the Twin Towers in New York City. Then Chapter One begins. At first, I thought the whole book was going to be about Corrigan and Ciaran (I didn't read the back cover). As I read the first chapters, I was reminded of the book Frank McCourt wrote about his life, "Angela's Ashes." It was sad but compelling and you knew in the back of your mind that the situation wasn't really going to get any better, but you had to keep reading. That's the way I felt about Corrigan's story - just so sad, but you had to love him and respect him for living his life the way he saw it should be. Then, I got to the next part and realized, "Oh, this isn't going to be just about them..." The stories and how they were interwoven with the tightrope walker in one way or another. There was even a chapter or two about him. Again, the writing got to my soul. I can't explain it any differently. It truly affected me. There is some coarse language, but I think it should be expected in the environment it is spoken. There are also adult situations, but they fit and are very relevant to the overall story. I really liked the book. I didn't give it 5 stars because if it was "amazing," I would have been unable to put it down. I would have stayed awake just to finish a chapter and that didn't happen, although I did look forward to seeing what happened next.
I gave this book 4 stars for the reasons already mentioned above. Get your copy at your local library or here on Amazon.com.