Well, sorry Dad. I finished our second book over a month ago and haven’t gotten around to posting a review. That can probably tell you something about what I felt about the book we chose: unenthusiastic.
“Let The Great World Spin” is a novel surrounding the day in 1974 when Phillippe Petit walked, ran, and even laid across a tightrope strung between the Twin Towers in New York City. When I heard this, I was excited to read the book. The story seemed interesting — after all, it involved a man walking across a tightrope 110 stories in the air.
McCann’s book is told through the eyes of eleven different narrators, who describe the events of that day: where certain people were when the tightrope walk occurred, the fatal car crash that occurred in New York City that same day, and how some (not all) of the protagonists’ lives intersect. The writing is beautiful, and the characters are all well-developed: we feel compassion for the mother of a fallen soldier, excitement when we hear about the tightrope walker’s meticulous preparation, and pity for the children of a prostitute murdered in the crash.
Each protagonist narrates his or her own chapter, and it often took me some time to figure out who was actually narrating. In fact, at least one narrator was completely unrelated to the rest of the story and I had absolutely no clue why his chapter was necessary. Not only were the eleven narrators a bit confusing, but it also kept me from feeling a sense of connection to the book. I think that stories with multiple narrators or interwoven storylines can be extremely engaging: take, for example, The Help or even the movie “Crash”. However, in Let The Great World Spin, the events that joined together these eleven people — a man walking on a tightrope and a tragic car accident — didn’t seem to hold as much meaning for me, and they did not unite the characters in a compelling way. At the end, my overwhelming thought was…. “So What?” The book was well written, but I kept wanting some shocking event or revelation to bring all of these narrators together. Perhaps there were too many moving parts. Perhaps I was hoping McCann would focus more on Petit’s walk (this narrative was far and away my favorite). Regardless of the reason, I was underwhelmed by the book. Good writing and character development, but the finished product didn’t instill any sense of emotion in me other than frustrated ambivalence.
And maybe next time, I’ll review a book when it’s more fresh in my mind. That might help a bit.