Friday, January 29, 2010

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann

Many novels have been written about September 11th. Only one other novel, before this one, has felt truly genuine and original, Don DeLillo's The Falling Man. What makes McCann's novel stand above the rest is how removed it feels from September 11th.

The novel's central focus is on Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers (see the documentary Man on Wire). Each chapter plays as a short story. A character's response to spotting the man walking what seems mid-air or a life being lived near the famous walk.

As most novels which use short stories to tell the story... the characters are all tied together. The main tie between most characters is that of an Irish priest named Corrigan. September 11th isn't even mentioned until a small passage in the final chapter (which is perhaps the weakest in plot but the strongest in writing).

McCann writes beautifully. I haven't read prose so well written since Banville's The Sea. And, the way the stories fold together so well reminds me of Mitchell's Ghostwritten.

This is a novel one holds close for many years.

"The thing about love is that we come alive in bodies not our own." (p.275)


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