Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beach Reading and a Reading Spin

So, we just got back from a week at the beach. And what is the beach great for? READING! I'm not so much of an ocean person, so much of my beach vacay was spent in one of these guys, curled up with a good book!

And what a great book it was--Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin." Yes, the book is dense, it takes a long time to get into and it is not exactly light beach reading. But McCann has really created something amazing in this book--with its emotions so rich and raw they simply jump off the page. This book is sure to be in contention for all of the big awards at the end of the year--it's already made Amazon's Best of the Year So Far List--so if big literary novels are your thing, I suggest you read this now so you know what all the buzz is about!

Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin" follows the lives of a group of individuals immediately before and after Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. Although the book does not feature Petit as one of its central characters, the lives of all of the main characters intersect with Petit's walk in a key way, creating a neat puzzle around the event. The book looks at people from all walks of life in NYC in the 1970s--from Bronx hookers to a Park Avenue matron. As the lives of each of these people comes together you wonder who will survive this vicious city, where people and souls seem to be eaten alive.

This was the first work I had ever read by McCann, and wow, was I impressed. McCann is a master storyteller and the way he weaves words together creates such vivid pictures, you feel like you can smell the smoke from the burning Bronx. While this novel wasn't my typical style--it is much darker and rawer than what I typically read--McCann's literary gifts can only leave a reader in awe. I did have a few problems with the structure of the novel--the jumping from character to character sometimes felt jumpy and abrupt, but I think this technique was intended to jar the reader--mimicking the realities of life in 1970s New York. The ending also felt out of place to me.

While this is not exactly light summer reading, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of great english literature. This work has marked McCann as one of the greats of the modern world, and I can't wait to see what else he produces.

1 comment:

  1. We watched a documentary about Philippe Petit over the summer. Having that back story might make this an interesting read for me and my sweetie. I'll have to look for it next time I'm at the bookstore.