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Customer Reviews for

Let the Great World Spin

Average Rating 4
( 484 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(179)

4 Star

(146)

3 Star

(84)

2 Star

(41)

1 Star

(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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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 146 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    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 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.

    21 out of 22 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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  • 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 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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  • Posted August 9, 2012

    great great book.

    great great book.

    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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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    Unusual and engaging

    This is an unusual novel about one day in history. At times it was a bit confusing as the story is told backward and forward in time and there are many, seemingly, disparate characters. Many of the characters intertwine in unusual and unexpected ways. I would recommend reading this book as a paper book and not as an eBook. I found I would have liked to flip back a chapter or so while I was reading which was harder to do electronically. I watched the film MAN ON WIRE after reading about 2/3 of the book which gave me a deeper understanding of the story the author told and which I also recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    An amazing tale of New Yorkers!

    A must read for anyone who is a fan of a good story. It does take a little while to get started, but is well worth the read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    Especially Wonderful if you Lived in the 70s

    Some books have great characters but limp plots; some have wonderful plot, but dull characters. It's the rare, delicious book that has both great plot AND character.

    "Let the Great World Spin" completely slides out of this categorization into a completely different realm; It has ten or so complex characters, each intertwined around the unfolding of events of one single day, August, 1974, in New York City. But the main character of the plot IS this snapshot of New York City on this day in 1974.

    It's the day when a tightrope walker, Phillippe Petit, walks a trajectory between the Twin Towers. It's the orbit knitted together through the likes of Claire, who loses her son in Viet Nam, or Tillie, the hooker grandmother who tries to save her heroine-addicted daughter from another stint in jail.

    The devastating stories of these people propel them to near-despair, but only as you approach the end of the book do you realize how masterfully MCann paints the picture of their orbit, bound by hope, connection, and compassion. You may think you've finished the book when it ends, but as you find your mind wandering back to it in the days to come, you realize you yourself have come to be within the gravitational pull of this novel.

    I've given this 4 stars out of 5 because there are some parts of the book that drag. It is well worth sticking with the book anyway, but those are the moments in which she found it easy to be distracted and focused more on the mechanics of what it was the author was trying to accomplish, rather than being absorbed in the novel itself. But 4 out of 5 ain't bad!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The "Not Quite" 9/11 Novel

    My book group chose this last month and it provoked a lively discussion. We were quite divided on how much we liked or disliked it. Everyone agreed that the writing was superior--and very Irish. Some found some of the characters distasteful, but others disagreed and found the variety of characters fascinating. I personally found the thread of the Philippe Petit tightrope walk to be an interesting thing to build the coincidences and "Crash" like scenario around. All in all I would recommend this book for the excellent writing and also to those who love New York and New York books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Let the Great World Spin

    Oh, what an amazing book. You start out and get familiar with these interesting characters and then the next chapter starts and you see no relationship, until BAM! These characters are related (not necessarily by genetic relationships) to each other.
    I must say that I was really into this book but was most captivated at the end when I got to know Gloria. What an amazing chapter. I can say no more other than
    YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    Fresh, original, engrossing -- yes, a masterpiece

    This is a beautifully written, originally constructed and deeply engrossing story of an intricately interlinked group of wonderfully engaging characters. It is in some ways reminiscent of Doctorow's "Ragtime", although I think it a good bit more profound (without being less entertaining.) The less you know about the story beforehand, the better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    slight but enjoyable

    i was amazed at how much i had read each time i put the book down. it's light fare but so well-written that you breeze through rather quickly. at first i thought it was a collection of stories but ultimately appreciated how the author subtly weaved the characters into each other's story. although it's not an earth-shattering read, it's enjoyable. touching and satisfying, if a bit sad, when all is said and done.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    COMPLEX STORY LINES, WELL TOLD

    LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN is a series of vignettes, in which interesting characters are introduced. Then as the book progresses, you are surprised by the interaction of these characters when they play an integral role in a subsequent vignette that is focused on another character. This book is quite well-written, providing good insights to these characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    Lovely intertwined stories

    This book is a collection of character's stories interwoven together by the day in1979 when Petit walked on a tightrope between the Twin Towers. I enjoyed the dreamlike quality of the characters stories and how each person moves through life as the great world spins. Touching novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2013

    PURE entertainment

    Absolutely brilliant.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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