Friday, April 30, 2010

Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann (audio)


OK fellow bloggers. You've all been here. This is one of those times where words just aren't going to cut it. How does one communicate an overwhelming sense of love, fascination, sorrow, and more emotion in general than will fit into my heart or my brain? No matter what I say, the only way to truly appreciate any work of art is to experience it first hand, which is what you must do with "Let the Great World Spin".

If you were an adult in the '70's, or if you are a recent lover of documentaries (Man on Wire), you may have some knowledge about a French tightrope walker who decided he simply HAD to walk between the twin towers in New York City. Just because the towers were there. So he trained and planned, and similar to a big bank heist, navigated his way through security, logistics, and timing to make his dream become reality. It is this event, a half mile above the ground, that is occurring in the periphery of a ground-level drama interconnecting the lives of ten beautifully flawed but precious human beings. An Irish street priest, a drug-addicted grandmother and daughter who are both hookers, a mother grieving over her only son lost in Vietnam, a judge, a hippie artist. They are all connected through one tragic accident.

McCann tells the stories of these people in such clear, vivid voices, you will feel like you have shed your own skin and inhabited their bodies. You are the 38-year-old hooker who only wanted the best for her daughter, and granddaughters, but failed to break the cycle. You are the ex-socialite artist who lost her way while embracing the drug culture, but now wants to do the right thing and is compelled to leave behind her old life to chase it down. You are the Park Avenue housewife who wants to break down all barriers of social status and find someone...anyone who can understand the pain of losing a son to a senseless war. McCann interweaves these lives, their humanity, and the irony of fate with such grace, that by the end of the novel, you want to weep with gratitude. Or recognize his rock-star status and throw your panties at him.

It is magical. It is profound. Likely you will profess your vow to read it again (soon). McCann's words will make you laugh, make you cry, will lull you into a trance, will draw you to a higher power, will make you want to become a better person, will change the way you look at the stranger on the street.

If you are an audio book person, you absolutely mustn't read this book in print. Not only is this book a masterpiece, the audio is as well. The voices are brilliant, a different narrator for each story, each an embodiment of the personality, no matter what the nationality or accent. It is 13 discs of pure, unadulterated entertainment.

Have I convinced you that life will not be complete unless you read this book? Can anyone explain to my why this did not win the Pulitzer? (no offense to the winner of course). This is by far the best book I've read this year, bar none.

6 out of 5 stars (can I do that?)



30 comments:

Nymeth said...

lol - you absolutely can, Sandy! :D And yes, you have convinced me. I love your passion and enthusiasm here. And this sounds like a stunning book.

farmlanebooks said...

Wow! I am really excited about reading my copy. I wonder if my experience will be lessened by not listening to it, but I can only hope I enjoy it as much as you did.

JoAnn said...

Wow - 6 stars! I was very disappointed when Let The Great World Spin didn't win the Pulitzer. I did a combination listen/read. Started with audio, had to look at the book to get a better feel for the structure, then went back to audio, but had to keep reading when I got out of the car. The audio definitely enhanced the overall experience - I loved the book!!!

Molly said...

Oh my! I would have skipped right by this book in the store, but now I feel as though I absolutely HAVE to read it!

Words did not fail you --- fabulous review!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I met a friend for dinner earlier this week and she just raved about this book, and now you are giving it a six out of five stars. I had never heard of this author before I started hearing about this book. I wish I had the time to go out an read it immediately.

Kaye said...

Fantastic review! Wow, 6 out of 5? Holy moly, I gotta read this! It is so amazing that some authors can make you become the character.

bermudaonion said...

Holy cow - 6 out of 5 stars! I've had this on my Kindle forever and you've really gotten me excited about it!

caite said...

but what if I AM NOT an audio person???

Avid Reader said...

I have been dying to get my hands on this audio for the last couple months and can't find it anywhere. All the libraries around me have it in print, but not audio. Grrr. I'll find it eventually. Great review!

Amy said...

oh my gosh, yay!!!! I need to read this in the next couple of weeks and now I'm really excited to do so. :)

Catherine Ensley said...

You made me a believer. I put a hold on it and will read it as soon as it comes back to the library. Fabulous, heartfelt review. I can't wait to read the book. (The audio's not yet available in my library system.)

Julie P. said...

I have a copy of this one too! Now I can't wait to read it!

The Bumbles said...

Well that's a no brainer then. Sandy's first ever 6/5 rating - Molly adds it immediately to the Goodreads To Read bookshelf.

Serena said...

great rating and review. Wow! This one blew you away!

heidenkind said...

Wow! So... you liked it, then? ;)

Alyce said...

I'm impressed that you liked this so very much! I've had it on my wish list for a while, but seeing such a rousing endorsement makes me want to hunt it down right away.

Matt said...

Oh...my...goodness! Yesterday I was browsing the bookstore (like I do everyday after work) and passed this one. I wasn't sure what this is about but I know a couple papers have given it positive reviews.

How can I resist a book that you give 6 stars? Now I have to go grab it, have it lined up for this summer when I have the whole weekend to read it (by the pool). :)

Kathleen said...

Oh my goodness, I am really looking forward to reading this one now! You haven't steered me wrong with any of your recommendations yet!

nomadreader said...

I've rated one book 6 out of 5 stars, so I'm glad to have company:-).

I still haven't read this one, but I will. Soon. Then I'll reread your entire review. Thanks!

Beth F said...

Okay, okay, okay -- You convinced me and convinced me to get the audio. LOL.

Iliana said...

Six stars! Oh my. I really want to read this one. I heard a review of it on NPR and it sounded great. It's on my list now definitely. Great review, Sandy!

Alice Teh said...

Of course you can do that, Sandy! LOL! Now, I'd need to knock my head if I don't read this. I absolutely must now. Thank you, Sandy. You're not good for my piggybank but I have no choice but to succumb.

Zibilee said...

Ooh! I have been waiting for this review!! I am so glad to hear that you loved this book and have already bought my copy. It sounds like it's going to be one of the better books of my year in reading and I am so super excited to start it! Absolutely wonderful review Sandy! The book sounds just spectacular!

Jenners said...

I'm not clear .... did you like it or not? Can you not pussyfoot around the topic?

Jeez ... 6 out of 5. I can't let this pass me by.

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

I know you said that this exploded your head, but 6 out of 5 stars? Dang. I know, I know, I have this, and I will read it at the very first opportunity I have from review copies.

S. Krishna said...

Reading your review after mine has posted, you did so much better of a job describing how great this book was! Amazing review!

Anna said...

I'm going to have to get my hands on the audio version at some point. I like the idea of different narrators for each story. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, but Tillie's story in particular broke my heart. Despite the few minor issues I had with the book, I loved it.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Booklover Book Reviews said...

I felt exactly the same way about this book. My review begins like this:

Profound. Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin should take a bow. One of my favourite authors, Frank McCourt, has described this work ‘a symphony of a novel’. I agree with this description whole-heartedly. I felt like applauding when I reached the final page.

It really move me.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I'm popping over after your win -- congrats!

I listened to this on audio too, and completely agree.

My book blog: <a href="www.5minutesforbooks.com>5 Minutes for Books</a>

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