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Thewanderingjew

Thewanderingjew

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel

Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann The world rotates on its axis, day in, day out. Events take place and then their moment moves on as the event ends and other events roll out around it, connected in some random way. Yet, the world continues to spin, under its own control, event after event, with the participants powerless to alter the impact on their lives. McCann begins his novel with an actual daredevil event that took place in 1974 and which astounded a good number of bystanders. The image of the people standing in the street gaping at what was happening above them, wondering about what it was they actually were seeing, then worried, when they realized what it was they watched, about whether or not the walker would fall, cannot help but bring back memories of the event of 9/11, when the world seemed to stop spinning briefly as it watched the horror of that day, as it watched the Towers fall. Yet, even that did not stop the world from continuing to spin, so perhaps, the ultimate message of this book, which creates so much loss and tragedy within its story and its images, is that there is hope, always, in the end, no matter what we suffer through. As the story travels between 1974 and 2006, with the use of short, staccato sentences, the author draws you in and keeps you interested in the outcome of each chapter and keeps you wondering how the character's lives will somehow intersect. A certain tension is created and a comparison can't help but be drawn between the political times of then, with the Viet Nam War, the burning of the Bronx, bras and draft cards, among other things, and the political times of now, with the Iraq and Afghanistan war, the War on Terror, class warfare, and political divisiveness. Has anything really changed, one has to wonder? The idea that the theme of a tightrope walker walking between the Twin Towers was the unifying force connecting each chapter in the book, was very disturbing, since the Towers no longer exist. However, interpersonal relationships, loss, unrealized dreams and ultimately hope, were the main defining themes of this book, for me, not the politics of the times. The tale clearly points out how we often live in the moment, in our own small sphere of life, and yet that moment can have a profound effect on each of us as it also connects us in unknown ways, with a larger circle of humanity. All of the events, in each chapter, evolve from Phlippe Petit’s tightrope walking event, in some way, although he is never mentioned by name and the event is only incidental to the novel serving as the connecting thread. The novel exposes the underbelly of New York City and its inhabitants, complete with all of its warts and attitudes. It exposes political, racial and class bias and touches on how each of us views ambition, morality, ethics and more importantly, ourselves and each other. It illuminates our individual unrealized dreams. It is about what unites and divides us. I think it is also about the possibility of human goodness, resilience and fortitude in the face of the greatest odds.