Don’t you just hate it when you love a book so much you can’t put it down, you long for the precious minutes when you can lose yourself in the pages, be transported to another world – and then it’s over. You know there are a finite number of pages, you know the end is coming and are hell bent on savouring every word. You want desperately to stretch it out, to prolong the pleasure … but can’t defy the irresistible urge to escape within.
So it was for me with Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
I only heard about it recently, over a drink with old friends from school. When they mentioned it, it was with wide eyes and sincere appreciation. I knew I had to find it.
The book I was reading was a bit ho-hum. Not exciting or rivetting, not particularly well-written and with a plot that was verging on predictable. I had to join the club of Let the Great World Spin enthusiasts. I felt I was missing out.
I’m not going to go into the plot – I’d hate to spoil it for anyone else. The blurb on the back cover says:
“New York 1974; a man is walking in the sky. Between the newly built Twin Towers, the man twirls through the air. Far below, the lives of complete strangers spin towards each other: Corrigan, a radical Irish monk working in the Bronx; Claire, a delicate Upper East Side housewife reeling from the death of her son; Lara, a drug-addled young artist; Gloria, solid and proud despite decades of hardship; Tillie, a hooker who used to dream of a better life; and Jazzlyn, her beautiful daughter raised on promises that reach beyond the skyline of New York. In the shadow of one reckless and beautiful act, these disparate lives will collide, and be transformed for ever.”
I loved the language:
“She had the bluest eyes, they looked like small drops of September sky…”
I loved the twists and turns – the spinning. In one instance a single sentence spanned the whole page. It wasn’t out of place, it wasn’t clumsy or ill-formed – it worked.
I augmented my enjoyment by watching a documentary ‘Man on Wire’ telling the story of Philippe Petit, and the extraordinary event on which this novel is based.
Let the great World Spin is so powerful. It’s one of those books that’s going to be with me for a long long time, my mind will always be flicking back to the scenarios, the characters and the sheer beauty of the writing. It is indeed a book to treasure.