Before I get to The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie's review of "Let the Great World Spin," by Colum McCann, I thought you might like to see how she spins (She likes to try out an enactment of her books when she reviews them):
And now for a well deserved belly rub:
The Beautiful Ms.Bonnie, having just finished reading Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin," says that her head is still spinning, almost as fast as her tail.
She says that some books have great characters but limp plots; some have wonderful plot, but dull characters. It's the rare, delicious book that has both great plot AND character.
"Let the Great World Spin" completely slides out of this categorization into a completely different realm; It has ten or so complex characters, each intertwined around the unfolding of events of one single day, August, 1974, in New York City. But the main character of the plot IS this snapshot of New York City on this day in 1974.
It's the day when a tightrope walker, Phillippe Petit, walks a trajectory between the Twin Towers. It's the orbit knitted together through the likes of Claire, who loses her son in Viet Nam, or Tillie, the hooker grandmother who tries to save her heroine-addicted daughter from another stint in jail.
The devastating stories of these people propel them to near-despair, but only as you approach the end of the book do you realize how masterfully MCann paints the picture of their orbit, bound by hope, connection, and compassion. You may think you've finished the book when it ends, but as you find your mind wandering back to it in the days to come, you realize you yourself have come to be within the gravitational pull of this novel.
The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie gave "Let the Great World Spin" only 4 stars out of 5 because there are some parts of the book that drag. It is well worth sticking with the book anyway, but those are the moments in which she found it easy to be distracted and focused more on the mechanics of what it was the author was trying to accomplish, rather than being absorbed in the novel itself. But 4 out of 5 ain't bad!