Tuesday, May 25, 2010

McCann, Colum (Let the Great World Spin)

I have little to zero strong feelings about this book. Perhaps it's because I knew that at least part of the story would be about Philippe Petit, the tightrope walker who walked between the WTC towers, and the movie about him (Man on Wire) left me underwhelmed. (Not from any lack of wonder about his feat, but the filmmaking itself was somewhat odd.) It's no secret that it can be difficult to divorce how you feel about a subject in one medium from another medium.

But, I don't think that's the entire reason why. Even with walking into it without any positive expectations, the longer I went in it, the less I cared about any of the characters or how McCann was weaving their stories one into the other. I'll admit to feeling somewhat manipulated, especially by the end story, and irritated by the overabundance of descriptive text (do we need a description of the sky in 40 different ways one right after the other? can't you just stick to one?), but in the end, it just felt like I was picking up the book only to get to the end so me and my book club buddies could discuss it. Not a great reason to keep on going.

Surprisingly, the bits I enjoyed the most were the fictionalized accounts of Petit's endeavors-- what it took to get the wire straight and without snags, how he almost died in a snowdrift, the feel of the wire under his feet. Perhaps McCann should try historical fiction, maybe that would ring truer?

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