Let the Great World Spin: A Book Club Review

Asian Fun:

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann won the National Book Award for Fiction 2009 for good reason. In a series of interconnected short stories, McCann paints a diverse picture of New York City in the 70s. McCann has the magical ability to capture the heart of both a rich woman grieving the loss of her son and a prostitute grieving the loss of her daughter. He is able to present each character with brutal honesty but at the same time extreme compassion.

I found some of his stories so beautiful and moving, McCann's language is fluid and he finds a beautiful and unique way to describe connection, loss and love. I also appreciate McCann's style, he "shines a light on the dark corners of the world" (well, New York City anyways) but without compromising the integrity of the story. Having worked in social work, I've seen some of the darker sides of humanity and as painful as it is to face, McCann does not exaggerate the suffering that some people are forced to continuously endure. I felt that McCann handled these darker sides of humanity with a grace and honesty that's difficult to balance. Its a credit to his talent that he was able to balance these two forces beautifully.

If you're looking for a unique and beautiful American novel, then dive into this literary masterpiece and know that even in the deepest despair of any story, you'll be rewarded with hope and the beauty of language by the end of this book.


Puerto Rican Pecan:

Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann, is a book about NYC in the 1970’s that centers around one day in the life of several characters, and a moment that brings them together in unpredictable ways. While well written, this book was a seriously depressing book for me. People abused drugs, experienced poverty and unfair treatment from those around them, were killed, abused and were abused. And through it all, there was almost nothing at the end to inspire hope. I was happy to have finished it.

This book, while not my cup of tea, did have some good parts to point out. McCann’s character, Corrigan, was an interesting person to follow in this book. I loved his embodiment of God’s word, truly giving of all that he had in mind, body, and worldly possessions. I loved watching his internal struggle of trying to decide whom he loved more, Christ or Adelita. And what’s more, I appreciated his ability to look past wanting to do what he liked, and instead liked what he did. I also enjoyed reading from the perspective of the tight rope walker. McCann created a conflict within me through this character because, though the majority of the book is doom and gloom, the tightrope walker casts the light of beauty and optimism over the mayhem that ensues below him. I wanted to stop reading, and yet even I was drawn to see more of the book through his eyes.


In the end though, the doom and gloom of Tillie Henderson’s story caught up with me. It was as if McCann chose every bad thing that could ever happen to a person, and then acted them out on Tillie. It felt overdone and overplayed, and by the time Tillie hung herself, I could only feel glad to have her out of the story so we could all finally have a little peace.

Here’s the bottom line – if you like melodrama and want something to make you feel better about your own life, then this book is for you. Otherwise, take a pass on this one.


Supporting an Athlete.

It is no secret that I'm a Steelers fan mostly because of Ben Roethlisberger. I followed him in college and continued to follow him when the Steelers drafted him. Once watching the Steelers, my husband and I just fell in love with the hard hitting, Defensive team and its been the Steelers for us every since.

So what do you when your favorite player, someone you've actually met and found to be a nice guy and whose jersey you own has been accused of sexual assault twice in twelve months? Having volunteered for the Rape Crisis Center for years I feel reluctant to judge the accusers as I know how hard it is to actually prosecute when you've been sexually assaulted. If the accusations are true at all, then all my sympathy are with the women. But it is also not uncommon for athletes to be falsely accused due to their status. I feel torn and disgusted about this whole issue. On the one hand, if these women are lying, then they're making it harder for real victims to prosecute because they're setting up the precedence that women lie about this sort of thing all the time, when in fact only about 8% of accusations are found to be false. But on the other hand, if Big Ben's misusing his fame and his strength to assault women then he should be in jail and I'm disgusted to own anything with his name on it. But until all the facts are in, I feel like I'm in limbo. I doubt it will be, but hopefully this will all be cleared up before the next season starts, if it'll ever be cleared up at all.

To Write or Sleep?

That's the question I've been wrestling with these past couple of months. I'm a one hundred percent night owl. If it were up to me, I'd stay up until about 3am every night then sleep in until about noon, but unfortunately the world isn't on the same page with me, and I'm forced to adjust. One of the most difficult adjustments is with my writing. In college, where I've written my best work, I'd have the liberty to stay up late and sleep in (okay, so I'd skip some classes sometimes to sleep in, but who didn't?) But now I have to wake up early for my job, so I'm not able to take advantage of my most creative window of the day, 12am-3am. I still get my most creative story ideas around that time of day, usually when laying in bed a story will play itself out in my head, plot, characters all the way to the ending. I'll even have some paragraphs written out in my head and I'll swear that I'll write it all down when I get some time the next day. That free time doesn't usually happen until the evening the next day, around 8pm, and by then the magic of the story is lost on me and I can't remember all the parts to it or what had made it so special. I do keep a notebook to jot down ideas next to my bed, but I'm usually half asleep and so tired when my mind is writing that even that seems like too much work. But it makes me feel like a slacker writer. How do you do it all? Have a normal life and also fit in writing? I've certainly tried writing sometimes during the day or early evening, but its not my prime time for creativity and so it feels like I'm always forcing it. Do I need to train myself to be a writer at all hours of the day or do I need to give up some sanity and sleep and write at night like I used to?

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