Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Staff Recomendation: Let the Great World Spin

One of Sue's and my personal favorites on the staff pick shelf right now is Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. It's absolutely stunning.

It's told from many different alternating points of view: a chorus of gorgeous New York voices, from some surprisingly sympathetic prostitutes to a grieving mother of a Viet Nam soldier. The story of the World Trade Center tightrope walker in the 1970's is woven through their interconnected stories. About halfway through this book, it felt like somebody had just grabbed my heart and wouldn't let go. After that, I could barely finish a chapter without needing time out to absorb the love and the empathy and the charm of this book.

The funny thing is, I had just watched the award-winning documentary called "Man on Wire,"about Phillippe Petit, the French tightrope walker who illegally and astonishingly crossed between the World Trade Center towers in August, 1974. It was an exhilarating story that captured the engineering and psychological challenge of the feat. One of the things I learned was the importance of the cavalettis, the additional cables that had to be strung diagonally across the main wire in order to provide support. Without the cavalettis, the main wire could have swayed, flipped or twisted, and Petit would have plumetted to the ground far below. To see the YouTube trailer for the movie, just click on "View Blog" above and go to the August 20th post.

So as I was reading Let the Great World Spin, I noticed the pictures of the cable and the intersecting cavalettis at the start of each separate section of the book. And I felt like I could grasp what McCann meant to say. That it's the intersection of our lives that glorifies life. It's at the intersection where humanity resides, where there is an answer to loneliness and grief. It's up to us to decide what to make of it.

I really hope you'll read this book and then stop in to tell us how much you liked it. To read an excerpt, just click here:

http://http// (If that link doesn't work, sorry! Just google "oprah", "let the great world spin" and "excerpt")

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