Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Elegant" is the single world I would use to describe this . . . well, whatever you decide that it is. I hesitate to call it a novel, because it endeavors to so much more artistry than that. I also struggle to call it simply a "collection of short stories," however, because the stories are woven together with such intentional thread and timing. I should be clear, however: it only strengthens my opinion of the book, that it is so difficult for me to classify. I am also in awe that McCann was able to pull off varying points of view (first person, third person) without jarring me, the reader. (It is yet another reason I struggle to call Let the Great World Spin a novel.)
Each portion is beautifully, poignantly written and, most importantly, unique while still being connected to the other portions of the book. My favorite selection might be "This is the House that Horse Built," which is narrated in first person by the hooker Tillie. It's not my favorite because it was necessarily the "best written," but because it is such a departure from the detached, panoramic tone of narration used with nearly all of the other characters.
The only reason I will not give this book five stars is because it did not grab me from the outset. I spent the first several stories, in fact, wondering "where in the world is this book going?" The pace was so unhurried that I honestly considered putting it down in favor of another book; fortunately, however, I nothing had yet come in from the library, so I was stuck with this or rereading something else . . . so I carried on. And was rewarded for doing so.
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