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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nat'l Book Award


Just finished LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN by Colum McCann.

Esquire touted this book as "the first great 9/11 novel." I agree. It's a kind of work that you'd like to go back to, a kind of book that reads like a story of private lives.

Though I must say I wasn't too crazy with the opening chapter - it was a bit too slow for my liking. Ok, sure, there's a guy based on a real French man named Philippe Petit, up in between the World Trade Towers in the 70s on, gasp, what? He was walking on a tight-rope, yes, a thin piece of wire way up high in the air with NOTHING to hold him except sheer will and the grace of the good Lord. Anyway, I still found that part slow. Then, it happened. The tendrils of the story piecing itself together through several different characters - an Irish monk in the streets of the Bronx, a WASPy woman married to Mr. Solomon "The Judge" that loses their son to the Vietnam War, a prostitute whose kid also turns tricks - mesmerize the reader into this strange and yet familiar world of New York in the 1970s so full of brass, grit and heart. It's a story of a city breathing and seeing through a bird's eye narrative (because the reader gets multiple and layered views of these people) how connected we all are despite the differences we perceive.

I have no doubt why this work won the 2009 National Book Award. Well done. Well done. Mr. McCann, you do the Irish proud. Hell, you do the American proud.

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