Customer Reviews for

Let the Great World Spin

Average Rating 4
( 481 )
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(179)

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(82)

2 Star

(41)

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(34)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

21 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

Potent, weakened only by occasional flourishes of melodrama

McCann's latest novel is by turns visionary and gripping, with vividly drawn characters weakened only by brief appearances of writing that reaches too far and ends up squarely as melodrama. As others here have summarized the plot, I'll only add that the characters McCan...
McCann's latest novel is by turns visionary and gripping, with vividly drawn characters weakened only by brief appearances of writing that reaches too far and ends up squarely as melodrama. As others here have summarized the plot, I'll only add that the characters McCann ties together around the Frenchman's remarkable walk between the towers in 1974 -- including a mother/daughter prostitute team, the Irish immigrant priest who selflessly befriends them, and two unlikely middle-aged friends from different races and social classes together recovering from the loss of their sons in 'Nam -- are vividly drawn, with characters and moments that are both complete and moving, and always compelling. The invocations of 9/11 are exceedingly and wisely spare, as McCann allows the tales, and the truth and resonance of the walk, to speak for themselves. The ultimate triumph of the novel, though, is the scenes of the tightrope walker, including his practices in the snow. They are unforgettable, poetic as they are precise.

posted by MacPoster on January 4, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Interesting, overwritten, polemical

Mr. McCann definitely has the power to impress with his writing. However, the book is so controlled, airless and without depth. You end up loving what it could have been rather than what it is. The characters all are so totally paper thin and mouthpieces to collected wi...
Mr. McCann definitely has the power to impress with his writing. However, the book is so controlled, airless and without depth. You end up loving what it could have been rather than what it is. The characters all are so totally paper thin and mouthpieces to collected wisdom.

posted by Lucy88 on July 3, 2009

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  • Posted January 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unique style, believable stories, compelling characters

    Unique writing style, believable stories, compelling characters. The initial impression is of well-developed (longish) short stories, each one ending too soon.

    But then unexpected links begin to appear, some so subtle they could be easily missed.

    This book is a treasure trove of stories about extraordinary people seeking deeper meaning in their lives, all wrapped in an exceptionally entertaining package.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    brilliant

    He is amazing, he has written a book that feeds all readers hunger.
    class act, glad he won the national book award.

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    This is probably one of my all time favorite books.  I had to re

    This is probably one of my all time favorite books.  I had to read this for my AP English 4 class and was  not excited based on what the basic description was. 
    However, I was happily surprised.  McCann is a literary genius, whose writing style draws  you in and  holds you in place.  It can be a slow read  but that's just because of the sheer amount of beauty in his writing.
    If you like character driven novels.  This is a must read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    A Fan but....

    I enjoyed McCann's othr work especially This Side of Brightness. I was eager to read this because of the great reviews. I was wholeheartedly into but.... it made me more and moe depressed. I was at a place in my life where I didn't need more depressing events. I had to put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Fabulous!

    I absolutely loved this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2012

    I really did enjoy this book. I struggled with it a little earl

    I really did enjoy this book. I struggled with it a little early on, but stuck with it and the separate storylines began to come together in rewarding ways. Definitely recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Tgg

    Got this book at b and n for my secret santa at school its a great book take it from me a big reader

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2012

    Fabulous story with very interesting characters.

    Fabulous story with very interesting characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    A great book, sneaks up on you!

    This was an edgy book the first few chapters you are not sure what you are getting into, but after that it is difficult to put down. The chapters about the women who have lost children in Vietnam are the best. There are some profound thoughts on life and how it goes on even after great loss.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Well worth reading.

    Well-written and engrossing. Seems disjointed in spots, but it all comes together. Good book for group discussions because there's a lot to talk about in terms of chracter and thematic elements.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    Loved the brothers, but couldn't dredge up any feeling for the o

    Loved the brothers, but couldn't dredge up any feeling for the other
    characters.....had to force myself to finish the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2012

    great great book.

    great great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2012

    The tightrope walker lives for the defining moments, the chances

    The tightrope walker lives for the defining moments, the chances to live life furiously in order to make some impression on the "great world" as it spins along. The most enduring characters, those who have redemptive or noble aspects by the novel's end, are those, who, like the unnamed walker, confront the world and live. Gloria turns around after running away to hide in her apartment, forges a lifetime friendship with Claire (her social antithesis), and takes the lives of two future prostitutes and creates a goodness that had never existed in her life of running and hiding. Lara confronts the truth of what she has done, works to make a wrong right, and creates turns a life to beauty. Corrie abandons the principles that hold him back from really loving someone while maintaining his dedication to easing the lives of those living in the world's arm pit.

    It is stepping off the building onto the unknown of the high wire that grants the moments that make life.


    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2012

    Not on my "Best Reads" list.

    Throughout the book, I kept waiting for some continuity. The chapters jumped all over the place and I never really got a grasp on the story. I think it's a book that must be read more than once - although there are so many books on my list to read, I may never be motivated enought to get back and read this one again. Overall I didn't much care for the style of this book. Avid reader.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    Let the great world spin but it is making me sick

    The main good of having a book like this on your Nook is that it will help you to remember never to bother with another one by this author

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great book, well written

    A little slow in the beginning, but keep going, you will like it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Great book

    A wonderful read, highly recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2011

    Great read,big breadth

    the writing is inspired and the interwoven lives/plots compelling. you get insights into different people and different worlds-the very pleasure of reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2011

    The world stood still while I read this novel

    If this were a movie rather than a novel, it might look like the unlikely marriage of "Man on a Wire," "Crash," and "I've Loved You for So Long". The characters and their worlds are so compelling, it's as though Colum McCann has pulled out all of the English language's pastels, oils, charcoals, pencils, and watercolors to paint them - and then gently centered his pictures around the pivotal image of a man on a wire. The detail is wonderful - and the style (imagine a more focused, optimistic, male Lonnie Moore) a modern, measured flow of consciousness.

    Another thing I loved about this novel is that while it clearly stands as a post-9-11 novel throughout, McCann never once actually mentions "9-11". Even as we become absorbed in another era, McCann's in-the-background focus on the towers holds us in the present. I hope this passage, one of my favorites, will give you a sense of what I'm trying to describe:

    "He figured that the tightrope walker must have thought it over
    quite a bit beforehand. It wasn't just an offhand walk. He was
    making a statement with his body, and if he fell, well, he fell--
    but if he survived he would become a monument, not carved in stone
    or encased in brass, but one of those New York monuments that made
    you say: *Can you believe it?* With an expletive. There would always
    be an expletive in a New York sentence."

    If I were writing a New York sentence, I'd recommend this novel with an expletive. As it is, I feel I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    VERY disappointed! I made myself read a third of it before I gave up.

    Saved this book to read the week before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Not at all what I thought it would be! Did not finish reading it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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