Summary: Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin reads as a series of interconnected short stories that take place in New York City. The intersecting point is an August 1974 morning when a man walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers. The stunt occurred just days before Nixon resigned and months before the fall of Saigon. Here is part of the publisher's summary:
Elegantly weaving together . . . seemingly disparate lives, McCann's powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city's people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the artistic crime of the century. A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as "a fiercely original talent" (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.Why I Abandoned the Book: I read almost half the book before I called it quits. There were several reasons I stopped reading, but one stands out. In the first ninety-seven pages I found four factual errors and that ruined the book for me. Instead of reading the fourth chapter for the story of two artists, I treated the text as if it were a literary treasure hunt: Did Pontiac really make a car in 1927? When was Max's popular in New York? Did Nixon really resign just days after the tightrope stunt? And when I didn't find an error, instead of relaxing, I started thinking that I hadn't read the story carefully enough. Time for this editor to put the novel down and move on.
I should note that I even tried the audio edition read by Colum McCann. McCann's narration was wonderful, but it didn't save the novel for me.
Here are the errors:
- Alencon lace is a needlelace, it is not tatted. (And I won't question the probability that someone owned handmade Alencon lace curtains.)
- Petunias do not have "gorgeous green stalks neatly clipped at the bottom" and really cannot be cut for putting in a vase. (They have floppy stems and tend to fall over.)
- The thirty-six saints were really thirty-six righteous men from Jewish folklore from before the formation of the Catholic Church. In fact, at one point the church attempted to hunt down and kill the righteous men because they thought the Jews were no longer the chosen people.
- Plastic bags were seen in the streets, but they were not in use until the late 1970s to early 1980s (caught by Dawn from She Is Too Fond of Books).
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Published by Random House, 2009
Challenges: New Author, Support Your Library, Audiobook, 100+
Source: Review & Borrowed (see review policy)
Note: I received a copy of this book from TLC Tours for review and also borrowed the audiobook from the library.