Tag Archives: New York

And So We Let The Great World Spin

…because doing that is easier than trying to get it to stop spinning, I guess. At least we haven’t managed that one yet.

let the great world spin colum mccann

When I first saw Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann reviewed on Amazon I was dismayed to learn that it wasn’t yet available on Kindle.  So I had to WAIT FOR IT.  Sheeesh.  I’m much better at instant gratification than I am at being patient.  I waited so long I eventually forgot about it.  And then when I came across it by accident finally listed in the Kindle store a few days ago I downloaded it right away without even trying to remember what my reasons were for thinking I would like it in the first place.

Well, good thing I’m boring as dirt consistantly predictable and don’t change my mind a lot because the book did turn out to be exactly the kind of story that kept me happily reading all the way to the brilliant end.  I’ll admit there was a moment of panic when one section ended and another began and I was completely lost with a brand new cast of characters who seemed to be completely unrelated to the previous set.  I’m not normally a big fan of back to back short stories because of my deeply ingrained need to know what happens next.  But here the stories and the people are all linked in simple or intricate ways;  their lives converge and overlap, and the actions of this one or that one send out ripples which will ultimately affect the actions or even the fate of someone else.  It’s the kind of thing we see every day of course –  action, reaction, watch the dominoes fall.

In New York City, August 1974, Phillipe Petit walked back and forth across a cable between the World Trade Center towers.   This real life event is not necessarily the central focus of the book, but it is the thread that holds it all together.  There is a street priest from Dublin, his brother, his lover, heroin addicts, hookers, mothers who have lost sons to the Vietnam war, artists, computer hackers, cops, and a Park Avenue judge.  And I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve mentioned here.  Ordinary people who are capable of extraordinary things.

The book is beautifully written and was well worth the wait. There are some very quotable quotes throughout.  Enjoy this little sampling.  And if you decide to read the whole book, I think you will enjoy that too.

“It was my earliest suggestion of what my brother would become, and what I’d
later see among the cast-offs of New York—the whores, the hustlers, the
hopeless—all of those who were hanging on to him like he was some bright
hallelujah in the shitbox of what the world really was.”

“There are rocks deep enough in this earth that no matter what the rupture, they
will never see the surface. There is, I think, a fear of love. There is a fear
of love.”

“The intrusion of time and history. The collision point of stories. We wait for
the explosion but it never occurs. The plane passes, the tightrope walker gets
to the end of the wire. Things don’t fall apart.”

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A Book of Many Wordy Pages

“We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts; we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”
— Philip Pullman

I’d really like to give this book a glowing review because so many people profess to have read it and loved it, calling it witty, satirical, poignant, charming, and delightful fun.  But I can’t, because it was none of those things to me.  It took me a month to slog through three hundred pages.  I couldn’t drum up any emotion for the main character who for some reason or other for me did not ring true.   I guess I really don’t care what New York was like in the 1930’s and the story never seemed to be going anywhere.  Random people kept popping in and out of her life or disappearing altogether never to be heard from again. It was like reading someones boring journal entries and finally getting to the end and thinking, really?  That’s it?

I am definitely in the minority here, and was probably just in a bad mood for a month, so don’t let this deter you from reading other reviews and the book itself.  It would be a very colorless reading world if we weren’t all inspired by different things.

So What Are YOU Reading?

Because I am living alone at the moment (and for the next five months or so of moments) I have a lot of time for uninterrupted reading.  It’s one of the best feelings there is, to have the quiet time to sit down with a good book, and to just let whatever else needs doing wait.  Kind of a delicious spaced-out interlude in which the rest of the world ceases to matter.

Just finished Escape by Barbara Delinsky.  It’s one of those feel good stories with a happy ending.  Of course there’s a lot of stress and trauma and mucking about to get there, but you just know things will work out eventually for ALMOST everybody.  And the ones it doesn’t all work out for, well that was their own damned fault.  In the crazy world of workaholic lawyers in New York,  Emily suddenly decides to walk away from it all and figure out her priorities in life because she’s mega stressed and no longer happy.  How many people do you know who are working their butts off doing something they hate to do for all the wrong reasons?  Take a good look in the mirror – one of them might be you.

Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman is turning out to be a real page turner and everybody’s fate is up in the air.  Of course I’m referring to the characters who are still alive at this point in the story.  I’m about half way through it.  If I review it now I’m less likely to give away the ending. Here’s the little blurb from Amazon:

College student Kevin Davenport is working any and every odd job to make it through school. He discovers who killed his father while working at the corrupt, mob-controlled, Kosher World Meat factory. Now he will stop at nothing to prevent the killers from ruining other families and to get his revenge, as well. Conventional techniques, such as going to the police, have not only been ineffective for others, these methods have proven to be virtual suicide.

So all bets are off and Davenport uses the grittiest and strangest methods as tools to bring down the killers. The characters, misadventures and odd jobs will have the readers laughing. But the hazard is real and Davenport is in over his head.

It’s very well written and hard to put down.  Unless you get interrupted by something like this next book.

Shift or Get off the Pot by Linda Edgecombe.  My boss gave it to me as a gift.  Do you think she’s trying to tell me something??  I started reading it last night at work and finished it when I got home, and decided I already have a life, thank you very much.  There are some very insightful things in it of course, not that I needed to hear any of them.  Okay, all sarcasm aside, it’s actually an excellent motivational book, which is why I was able to quickly read the whole thing.  And also just in case there’s a test later I like to brown nose and appear to be smart.  Funnily enough, it’s a lot like the Escape book, advising us to get rid of the negative things in our lives, discover what it is that makes us truly happy and fulfilled, and then get out there and have fun and enjoy life.  Instead of being on “The Deferred Life Plan”, working ourselves to death so we can be happy some time in the future, we need to start living right now.  Accept who you are, do your best, and learn to laugh again.

Apparently I need to accept the fact that I’m a Relator.  (Not to be confused with realtor – I would suck at that job.)  The other choices are Socializer, Thinker, and Director.  Get the book and find out who you are!  Or if, like me, you already know everything, never mind.  And now, back to the grizzly murder mystery.  I definitely have my priorities straight.