Jun 1st, 2011 by Annie
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
|On August 7, 1974, the streets of New York City were brought to a standstill in the early morning light. A small figure was spotted a quarter of a mile up walking, running, dancing, jumping, and laying down on a high wire suspended between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Funambulist Philippe Petit’s daring and death-defying high wire performance, which he called “le coup,” took many months of training and planning to execute. Let the Great World Spinby Colum McCann is not, however, Petit’s story; it is his astounding feat that threads the novel’s major characters together in most unexpected ways.|
Book Club Ideas
Decorations for Let the Great World Spin book club party can include just about anything to do with New York City. A Statue of Liberty centerpiece, a really cool NYC skyline, or create your own street scene by putting together a NYC street vendor cart. I used flag pendantsand printed out some vintage signs I found on-line. I have a little retro hot dog roller (purchased for a birthday party) along with a retro squeeze bottle set for the condiments that are perfect for this theme.
“I Love New York” t-shirts are readily available for those who like dressing up for themed book club parties; or deck out in your favorite seventies garb since most of Let the Great World Spin is set in 1974!
For the music of the time (’74), check out “1974 Greatest Hits” by The Magic Time Travelers. You’ll love the old tunes.
Book Club Menu
The NYC street vendor “cart” needs some authentic NYC street food to go with it.
New York City claims to be the birthplace of the hot dog as we Americans have come to know and enjoy. Fact or fiction? Who really knows, but hot dogs selling on a street corner or at the ballpark is quintessentially New York City.
Accompany the hot dogs with some crispy onion strings.
No street vendor cart is complete without soft and chewy pretzels.
In 1896 Italo Marchiony began selling ice cream in a container from his pushcart in New York City …
Yummy strawberry ice cream!
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.93 stars (14,245 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4 stars (333 ratings)|
|Barnes & Noble: 4 stars (345 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4.5 stars This novel is smart, edgy and completely engrossing.|
- There are eleven major characters narrating Let The Great World Spin. Which character’s story were you most moved by and why?
- What is Colum McCann trying to illustrate by including Philippe Petit’s historic tightrope walk between the twin towers of The World Trade Center in this novel? Is Petit’s tightrope symbolic of something else?
- Corrigan and Jazzlyn are two of the major characters in Let The Great World Spin, however, we never do hear their perspectives as narrator. Did this bother you? Do you still feel you got to know these two characters from the perspectives of others?
- How important to the novel is the setting of New York City? Would this novel be as effective in another setting?
- Tillie gives us an intimate glimpse into her life. Where you either appalled by or sympathetic to the circumstances of her life? Why? If you felt neither emotion, what did you feel when reading her story.
Purchase Let the Great World Spin at your favorite bookseller
|Colum McCann was born in Dublin in 1965 and currently lives in New York with his wife Alison and their three children. He is the author of two collections of short stories and five novels.
Awards for Colum McCann
* 2003 Esquire magazine’s “Writer of the Year”
* 2009 awarded the Deauville Festival of Cinema Literary Prize in Deauxville, France
* 2009 Colum will be awarded a French Chevalier des arts et lettre
* 2009 Colum inductee into Aosdana
* His short film “Everything in this Country Must,” directed by Gary McKendry, was nominated for an Academy Award Oscar in 2005.
…and other numerous awards and honors.
Awards for Let The Great World Spin
* 2009 National Book Award Winner
* 2009 Prix Deauville
* 2010 Ambassader Book Award Winner
* Amazon.com’s “2009 Book of the Year”
* Oprah.com’s “Books You Can’t Put Down”
Learn more about Colum McCann and Let The Great World Spin at his website.
More Works by Colum McCann
Favorite Quotes, etc…
Here are some gems from Let The Great World Spin:
“It had never occurred to me before but everything in New York is built upon another thing, nothing is entirely by itself, each thing as strange as the last, and connected.”
“One of those out-of-the-ordinary days that made sense of the slew of ordinary days. New York had a way of doing that. Every now and then the city shook its soul out. It assailed you with an image, or a day, or a crime, or a terror, or a beauty so difficult to wrap your mind around that you had to shake your head in disbelief.”
“The overexamined life… it’s not worth living.”
I love this wonderful animation on Philippe Petit’s “Le Coup” …
August 7, 1974
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