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Two competing theories are currently rolling around the academic journals for acceptance. One proposes that the visual cortex, much like a movie camera, processes perceptual input in temporal packets, taking a series of snapshots and then creating a continuous scene. Perhaps our brain processes these still images as it does frames in a movie, and our perceptual mistake results from a limited frame rate.
This person did not see a dab of blood on a needletip on the other side of a room in which the bulbs have been painted black. Just tell the story. There were so many other examples but I just want to forget this book now. View all 6 comments. I had a difficult time getting into this book but in the end I am glad I persevered. It is really a story about New York City in centered around Phillippe Petit's historic tight rope walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center.
But the story itself trancends all that and takes us into the lives of some of the people whose days are coloured by this incredible feat and what unfolds is a powerful,complex tale of life, love, loss and redemption. I don't think I realized just how profo I had a difficult time getting into this book but in the end I am glad I persevered. I don't think I realized just how profound and deeply felt this story was until I had finished it. It will be some time, no doubt, before I am done thinking about all this book brings to bear. View all 11 comments. May 12, Saffron rated it it was amazing Shelves: It is enough" I am not one for literary fiction.
I mean, the life is profound enough, why read about it? It's just depressing, you know. This book is depressing too because it's just so, so beautiful. I read the first page and I stopped, and rubbed my face in it. Crazy, I know but sometimes you need to feel the texture of the words that touch you so deeply. This book is a masterpiece portrayal of New York City that is tied together by one tightrope walker. I don't know how to describe this book other than saying that this book is complicated, layered. But it is also simple and true. There a million people out there we don't know and we will never get to know them.
But they touch our lives in a million ways. This book is about those people. This book is about connections we will never make but still, we have them. This book is about ordinary people who are special in their own way. This book is alive with people who die, who live and who move on. This book is perfect! Thank you, Professor for making me read this I can't stop crying! View all 46 comments. How did he do it?
How did he get the wire across? That's the question that intrigues those who saw or heard of Philippe Petit's daring tightrope walk on August 7, Not who, not why. How he bridged the unbridgeable, the chasm between those two monolithic structures. Spider-like, sending a thread that looks as delicate as silk from afar, but is strong enough to carry a man, a thread that connects the two separate giants. This took a wee while to work its magic. It is oblique, which I li How?
It is oblique, which I like, but it can be unsettling , there are some oddly ugly metaphors - a sunset the colour of muscle. But there I was thrown the lifeline of some breathtakingly well executed writing, which persuaded me to struggle back on board. There are more - a whole ensemble. And they start to come together, all these people, in unexpected ways. There are gossamer thin threads thrown across the void, threads that are delicate and easily broken, and as strong as a wire that can carry a man.
They cross the void between those different worlds.
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View all 16 comments. An ambitious and complex novel set in New York in Each chapter tells the story of a different character, and it gradually becomes clear that they are much more linked than seems the case early on. McCann's characters are rounded and sympathetic, covering a wide cross section of New York society.
The central inspiration is Philippe Petit's high wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Centre, and his story has a symbolic resonance that links the remaining tales of survival. If I have An ambitious and complex novel set in New York in If I have a slight criticism it is that the last chapter, set in , ties up the loose ends a little too neatly, but overall this was a very rewarding read.
Jan 17, Nate rated it really liked it Shelves: I wanted to remember some of the lines from this book so I wrote them in my journal. I haven't read anything in a while that has made me ache. The loss in this book and the admiration the narrators have for the central figure is overwhelming as you read it. The author has obviously lost someone special and has captured that loss on paper. Just gorgeously written, especially the chapters titled Miro, Miro on the Wall and Centavos. It is I wanted to remember some of the lines from this book so I wrote them in my journal.
It is a tale of interwoven characters who don't know how they connect, each chapter is written from a different point of view, and there's some play with the chronology of the plot. Pretty standard fiction fare nowadays. We never hear from Maris or McCann's character Corrigan directly, but we get a fully fleshed out character from hearsay. In Corrigan's case, he just keeps getting more and more wholesome and that wholesomeness radiates through the other characters in the novel.
That delicate kind of wholesome that isn't preachy or judgmental. To me, the character Corrigan illustrates the reason I dislike Oprah. He felt no need to wear his good deeds like a medallion - he did not do the tremendously kind things he did for his own self-esteem or for an audience. He did them because it was right. The fact that the reader learns of Corrie's philanthropy is solely because we hear it from other characters. He would never tell us these things if he were to narrate. He was a reminder to people who most needed reminding that there is still good in the world.
Similarities can easily be drawn between him and the unnamed tightrope walker. I would like to write about the tightrope walker and Corrie's differences. We are told the tightrope walker's intentions for walking out between the Twin Towers were because the Towers were there to be walked between. Since this stunt took place before reality tv shows and 24 hour news channels, I can somewhat believe it. But somewhere in there he must have done it for notoriety, don't we all have some wish to be remembered, or at least have our 15 minutes of fame?
Let the Great World Spin
That's the main difference to me between the tightrope walker and Corrie. The only reason this book didn't get a 5 star from me is because of the phreakers chapter. I'm still wrapping my head around it. I wouldn't say it was a mismatch to the rest of the book; but its reason for being included isn't as obvious. Communication and distance are definite themes of the novel. The beginnings of the internet seem like a good locale for that discussion - but the rest of the book was so tightly written; much more obvious in its motives.
Plus there was always a tie in to other characters of the novel somehow in other chapters. Maybe I should read it again, because I don't think any of the people the phreakers got a hold of tied in. View all 8 comments. Oct 17, Cheryl rated it really liked it Shelves: Let the great world spin. And the great world of New York did indeed spin in this book. How do you view melancholy and heartbreak as something pure and beautiful and riveting and just plain astounding? You read Colum McCann's work, that's how.
It was an orchestra of sorts--the many different voices and narratives. McCann writes with so much lyricism, he makes you want to dance with the tightrope walker the book opens with taken from the true story of Philippe Petit, by the way. Three word Let the great world spin. Three word sentences and then one-page paragraph. Almost no dialogue and then a three-page dialogue-only scene. Simply-structured sentences combined with complex word vines. The prose is a web of bemusement, much like the characters. Ireland, a city I love reading about ever since Frank McCourt made tales of Ireland and what one might call the 'Irish dialect' in literature alluring.
Yet McCann does not even come close to writing about Ireland the way in which he writes about New York. The New York he describes, I see clearly. I was a teenaged immigrant when I lived in New York City. Though I was fortunate to have parents who swore to keep us out of the projects even though they had lost everything when they emigrated, I walked the streets of the projects with my high school friends in Queens, where I lived. I visited the Bronx with them, where mothers leaned out of windows speaking in code, asking their sons to buy things I had no idea of then until I saw small bags exchanged through palms.
Walked the projects of Staten Island with friends who had just moved there after escaping war in their homelands. Went to church in the middle of what was then Brooklyn's worst projects; Bedsty. Watched while some of my friends never made it through high school and some were deported for bad behavior. Sometimes it all seems unnerving, as if someone handed me a skateboard and I skated through all of it in slow motion. Now here goes McCann, illuminating it all, reminding me. He speaks of prostitution, drugs, death, etc. But mostly, the book probes about life and consequences, life and the decisions we make, life--the good, the ugly, the beautiful, the painful.
Ciaran Corrigan was my favorite character. Then Jaslyn; the daughter of Jazzlyn the prostitute. Ciaran told the twisted story of his brother, John Corrigan, who was a priest living in the projects with prostitutes, and somehow he became their best friend and angel. But even a priest has struggles and even his family must deal with tragedy. Through Ciaran's narration, I wanted to move with the book and never let it go.
Until about 80 pages in when the parallel narration took Ciaran away from me and introduced another character. And this is the only problem I had. The parallel narratives seemed almost like short stories that were later stringed into a novel. And since McCann was a short story writer, that theory may not be too far off. There was the overarching theme of New York, yes, and there were characters whose lives were later intertwined yes, but don't look to be driven by some plot alignment.
I love short stories but I hate when I'm reading a novel and it starts to feel like a short story collection. You come across so many characters--which, I admit, seems befitting for New York. Though when I got to Tillie's narration the older prostitute it seemed a bit inauthentic because the New York-African American dialect was off. Great book and an author whose masterful prose I will gladly seek. Apr 06, Catherine Siemann rated it it was amazing Shelves: New York City in was a run-down, uneasy place, trapped in a spiral of decay.
Colum McCann's novel captures the spirit of the place and the people eloquently and movingly, the despair and isolation, the community and the hope.
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The stories of a disparate group of New Yorkers are linked together by Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers: While a few of the sections particularly one of computer hackers working on the early Arpanet are weaker than the others, overall, this beautifully written book was one that I never wanted to end. Aug 16, Joe rated it it was ok.
This one never quite got off the page for me. Couple of reasons why: View all 4 comments. May 24, Steve rated it really liked it. I guess that makes sense. I tried to come up with a more distinctive metaphor, but my spinning disc with multi-colored curves coming from the center like one of those psychedelic swirl lollipops smacked of trying too hard. Anyway… This was a very good book. For any of you who saw Man on Wire , you know this was a pretty cool, real-life event.
With millions of stories in the Naked City to work with, the challenge was to come up with a representative subset. And to combine them in the manner of a spinning disc with multi-colored curves coming from the center like one of those psychedelic swirl lollipops. OK, I see it now: The cast of characters is as engaging as it is varied. Phillippe features, too, though not always as a focal point. The writing, I thought, was top notch.
The plots were engrossing and the descriptions gave a real sense of time and place. Plus, McCann lays out his words with a real rhythmic flair. Spun or woven, read and enjoy. View all 28 comments. Feb 22, George rated it really liked it Shelves: Native-born Irish writers are all so frustratingly depressing. So much for my proclivities toward ethnic-author stereotyping. Pick up this award winning novel for a delightful read.
I just finished Let the Great World Spin. WOW, I loved this book. You read it for the words, the thoughts that arise in you as you listen. You do not read this book for the plot. Maybe even parts are implausible, but that does not lessen the impact of the words. You cannot understand every line as you listen. This is a book about life and how it whirls around you and how everything and everyone is interconnected.
How can I describe this book If I extract a few lines to show you, you will miss their import. They are part of the context, each line related to the next.
Just as people are Some stories are fun. You get a perfect balance. You will not understand more if you read the paper book. To understand you have to stop and think and each one of us will come up with a different explanation. There is no right explanation. Do not be scared to read this book because you hear that is composed of different stories. It is, but they do all relate to each other.
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By the end you have learned about the lives of several disparate characters, maybe not every detail, but who they really are, what motivates and moves them. You see life and death and growth and disintegration and the world spins on with us little specks on the surface. But regardless of our smallness, we are each one of us important to each other. I loved this book. There are many other reviews out there. If you want to know the factual details of who does what and the role of each character, read another review.
Me, I do not advise reading this book for its plot.
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I will just say this: The rest is wonderful, imaginative fiction. View all 37 comments. Jun 23, David Lentz rated it it was amazing. Ah, Dear God, this man knows how to write and send the human soul soaring after the resurrection from the dark night of the spirit.