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FREE ä Let the Great World Spin ß 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 , 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 PeopleLet 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 SCorrigan, 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 WorthElegantly 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 A city with so much life in it that just a sliver of a fleeting moment a man atop a wire suspended between ill fated twin building suffices to display the budding emotion of the general populace And not one emotion but a hundred important to these people, for the while, in a very democratic piece of literature A true valentine to NYC a jisgaw puzzle of faces that come from different places They all look up in awe we look down in equal amazement at the power of this grand American epic. In my classification system, there are books that are readers books they tell an engaging story there are books that are writers books they are creative in their prose and technically sound and then there are GREAT books that tell a good story through solid prose Let the Great World Spin the 2009 National Book Award winner is such a book The book shares the lives of seemingly random New Yorkers in 1974, and how their lives intertwine At the surface, they seem connected by what happens in their lives in and around August 7, 1974 when a man walked a tightrope strung between the two towers of the World Trade Center However, as the book progresses, we find out how their lives connect on much deeper levels This book rewards patient readers Impatient readers will find the first few chapters disjointed, with too many unconnected plot threads Patient readers will get to see how all these threads come together and come together they do, and beautifully so, in a way that reminded me of Cunningham s The Hours It s one of the reasons that, if I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be well crafted Patience also pays off for the reader in how the novel ends For me, the first half of the book felt very dark characters die, depressing lives remain depressing, and sorrows remain unredeemed But in the last half of this book, there is this growing sense of hope and strength And McCann s story about the connectedness of life and the audacity of living despite the hardness of life completes itself From a prose perspective, McCann has a writing style that was fluid enough to change its voice as it drifted from character to character, but was still able to retain its structure and feel Sentences are sharp and concise and scene descriptions always had this energy behind it Beautifully written, and perfectly crafted Highly recommended. This really may be the first truly profound novel to connect itself with September 11, 2001 and New York City, if only because it does so in such an understated, oblique, and poetically suggestive way It s also a novel that may take over a hundred pages to truly capture your imagination, but once it does, and once the connective tissue of the disparate group of characters starts to reveal itself, the novel attains a kind of hypnotic and edgy grace for its duration So richly and deeply are McCann s various characters drawn that one finally must marvel at how much he accomplishes in his 350 pages i.e., it would take lesser writers at least another 100 pages to render these many lives as convincingly as he does It s a novel about unlikely and often unknown linkages between people, and because some of these characters represent types who are most invisible and disenfranchised in our society it s a novel that enlarges our sympathies and our compassion or at least it should It s also a novel about those two towering beacons high in the clouds, the World Trade Center towers in their infancy, in a innocent time, when they could be confronted by bravery, elan, and artistry rather than by terrorism When the pedestrians look up to the buildings peaks to see a tightrope walker making his way between them, their eyes cannot believe what they see and we reflect on the buildings recent history, when our eyes also could not believe what they saw, and when the notion of falling from the sky took on all those horrible shadings When, on the novel s last page, one of McCann s characters reflects that, as humans, we stumble on we bring a little noise into the silence, find in others the ongoing of ourselves and concludes that it is almost enough, we feel all of the power this novel has been so patiently and inexorably building up. I used to really enjoy short story collections I used to read scary ones in elementary school, depressing ones in high school, and I even read trippy ones in college thinking I was cool But sometime during my post college years, my interest in them began to wane I don t know whether this can be ascribed to getting older, but I do know that I now get frustrated with short stories The time I invest in the setting and the characters, acclimating to the storytelling style and pacing well, there s not enough return on my investment I just don t have time for it any.Thankfully, this book is not a collection of short stories Rather, it is a single story told in a collection, and the collection holds together nicely Let the Great World Spin is actually the story of a particular place and time New York City, August 1974 It is about the lawlessness and drudgery of the city s inhabitants, it is about the angst of war, but it is also about those shining moments of hope and human achievement that pierce the angst and shred the drudgery to pieces It is about two characters in particular, one real and one fictional, who serve as a sort of lamppost for a city steeped in darkness and self loathing Interestingly, both characters are outsiders new arrivals from foreign soil as if pulled in by a city that needs just a little bit of light, please.There is plenty to like about this book, too its coherency, its writing style, its characters But once again, I expose myself as a sucker for imagery McCann uses metaphor like nobody s business and I fricken loved it I ended up reading this for our new book club on Goodreads, which I started with a bunch of friends as an excuse to squeeze evenbooks onto my reading list And I have to admit, this was an excellent first pick.