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Books 3,4 and 5 of 2014 Part 1 – Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann

Let the Great World SpinA few days ago at Socialstudious I wrote a post about Books 3 and 4 for 2014. Those two books are Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann and Plainsong by Kent Haruf, neither of these books are anywhere close to the type of books that I normally read. The genre that I normally read is reflected in the title of this blog. But last month after reading The Road Out by Deborah Hicks. A book about her attempt as a teacher to give a group of at risk adolescent girls a way to see their lives reflected in literature, and realize that there may be hope to attain their dreams, I thought hey am I missing out by not reading literature. So i decided that this year I would read at least one book a month that is considered literature. For the other books (I read about 3-4 books a month) I would include one history and.or political book, and one mystery or thriller. With that being said, because I have been on hiatus from work, due to lack of work, I have finished in addition to the two books already mentioned  a third book Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin.… which I will write about shortly.

But let’s get back to Let the Great World Spin, which won the 2009 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, one of the most lucrative prizes in the world.

The book opens on  an August morning  in 1974, with a man perched atop the north tower of the Twin Towers in NYC. People stop and stare wondering what he is going to do, will he jump, or parachute from the tower. Soon they realize that he is a tightrope walker and he is going to walk a tightrope between the towers!!The tightrope walker though never named in the book is based on the famous walk of Philippe Petit.  The world then spins in time and place and the reader is in Ireland, where he meets the Corrigan brothers, John and Ciaran. When the reader first meets John (called Corrigan through the rest of the story because  John just does not fit him) as a youth, he has given away is blanket to a homeless man. Throughout the rest of his life this is what Corrigan does helps those less fortunate than himself. The world than spins again and Ciaran is on the way to New York City to join his brother which had joined a religious order and was working in NYC.When Ciaran arrives he finds his brother lies in the Bronx and provides care for the hookers who work under the Major Deegan Expressway and help at a nursing home! Ciaran eventually finds a job tending bar and tries unsuccessfully to  get his brother to move. On the same day as the walk, the world spins again and this spinning affects the lives of all the protagonists of the book. In total the novel is to though the individual voices of eleven people whose lives all intertwine on that fateful day.The characters include Claire and Gloria who are members of a group of mothers grieving over the loss of their sons in the War in Vietnam. Tillie one of the hookers that works under Deegan, Adelita a nurse at the home where Corrigan works and others. They like the tightrope walker move through life on a tightrope only theirs is a little lower but with one wrong move the effect can be just a deadly.

I’ve probably  already written enough about the book and should now just close. It is a great book, duh, if it wasn’t it wouldn’t have won all those awards!

Now, the reason that I’m reading literature is so I can learn to read more deeply and get more out of everything I read. But since this is my first attempt, when I went to read some of the book club guide questions, I had trouble answering them. So if there is anyone out there who has read the book and partaken of any reading group studies of the book,who would like to provide some of what they got out of the book I’d be most appreciative!! You can leave a comment here or at the Me, Myself, Music and Mysteries Facebook page! More to come about Books 4 and 5!!!

P.S. Currently I have started another fine piece of literature – The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson – so if anyone would like to read along and explore it with me let me know!!