Often, you have to bow to greatness. Those whose words are more poignant, more magical and straight up new jack than yours. This is one of those times. In brief, "Let the Great World Spin" just won the National Book Award for Fiction and its brilliant. I'll let the experts tell the rest. Roll Tape!
"One of the most electric, profound novels...in years. "Let the Great World Spin” is an emotional tour de force. It is a heartbreaking book, but not a depressing one. [It] can feel like a precursor to another novel of colliding cultures: “The Bonfire of the Vanities”. --NY Times Book Review
“With Philippe Petit’s breathless 1974 tightrope walk between the uncompleted WTC towers at its axis, Colum McCann offers us a lyrical cycloramic high-low portrait of New York City in its days of burning; Park Avenue matrons, Bronx junkies, Center Street judges, downtown artists and their uptown subway-tagging brethren, street priests, weary cops, wearier hookers, grieving mothers of an Asian war freshly put to bed; a masterful chorus of voices all obliviously connected by the most ephemeral vision; a pin-dot of a man walking on air 110 stories above their heads.”–Richard Price, author of Lush Life
Pic via: GoogleMania
Excerpt via: Columm McAnn
*Excerpt & Photo of Artist after jump
Let The Great World Spin – An Excerpt
© Colum McCann 2009
Those who saw him hushed. On Church Street. Liberty. Cortlandt. West Street. Fulton.
Vesey. It was a silence that heard itself, awful and beautiful. Some thought at first that it
must have been a trick of the light, something to do with the weather, an accident of
shadowfall. Others figured it might be the perfect city joke—stand around and point
upward, until people gathered, tilted their heads, nodded, affirmed, until all were staring
upward at nothing at all, like waiting for the end of a Lenny Bruce gag. But the longer
they watched, the surer they were. He stood at the very edge of the building, shaped
dark against the gray of the morning. A window washer maybe. Or a construction
worker. Or a jumper.
Up there, at the height of a hundred and ten stories, utterly still, a dark toy against the
He could only be seen at certain angles so that the watchers had to pause at street
corners, find a gap between buildings, or meander from the shadows to get a view
unobstructed by cornicework, gargoyles, balustrades, roof edges. None of them had yet
made sense of the line strung at his feet from one tower to the other. Rather, it was the
manshape that held them there, their necks craned, torn between the promise of doom
and the disappointment of the ordinary. It was the dilemma of the watchers: they didn’t
want to wait around for nothing at all, some idiot standing on the precipice of the towers,
but they didn’t want to miss the moment either, if he slipped, or got arrested, or dove,
Around the watchers, the city still made its everyday noises. Car horns. Garbage trucks.
Ferry whistles. The thrum of the subway. The M22 bus pulled in against the sidewalk,
braked, sighed down into a pothole. A flying chocolate wrapper touched against a fire
hydrant. Taxi doors slammed. Bits of trash sparred in the darkest reaches of the
alleyways. Sneakers found their sweetspots. The leather of briefcases rubbed against
trouserlegs. A few umbrella tips clinked against the pavement. Revolving doors pushed
quarters of conversation out into the street. But the watchers could have taken all the
sounds and smashed them down into a single noise and still they wouldn’t have heard
much at all: even when they cursed, it was done quietly, reverently. They found
themselves in small groups together beside the traffic lights on the corner of Church and
Dey; gathered under the awning of Sam’s barbershop; in the doorway of Charlie’s Audio;
a tight little theater of men and women against the railings of St. Paul’s Chapel; elbowing
for space at the windows of the Woolworth Building. Lawyers. Elevator operators.
Doctors. Cleaners. Prep chefs. Diamond merchants. Fish sellers.
Sad- jeaned whores. All of them reassured by the presence of one another.
Stenographers. Traders. Deliveryboys. Sandwichboard men. Cardsharks. Con Ed. Ma
Bell. Wall Street. A locksmith in his van on the corner of Dey and Broadway. A bike
messenger lounging against a lamppost on West. A red- faced rummy out looking for an
early- morning pour. From the Staten Island Ferry they glimpsed him. From the
meatpacking warehouses on the West Side. From the new high- rises in Battery Park.
From the breakfast carts down on Broadway. From the plaza below. From the towers
Sure, there were some who ignored the fuss, who didn’t want to be bothered. It was
seven forty- seven in the morning and they were too jacked up for anything but a desk, a
pen, a telephone. Up they came from the subway stations, from limousines, off city
buses, crossing the street at a clip, refusing the prospect of a gawk. Another day,