کتاب بگذار دنیای بزرگ بچرخد

اثر کالم مک کان از انتشارات ترانه - مترجم: زهرا حسینیان-داستان تاریخی

کلر دستانش را با کناره‌ی پیراهنش خشک می‌کند و نمی‌داند کجا باید بنشیند. باید مستقیم از میان آن‌ها عبور کند و روی مبل بنشیند؟ اما شاید این حرکت کمی توی ذوق بزند، درست کنار مارسیا بنشیند که همه‌ی نگاه‌ها به سوی اوست... ؛

خرید کتاب بگذار دنیای بزرگ بچرخد
جستجوی کتاب بگذار دنیای بزرگ بچرخد در گودریدز

معرفی کتاب بگذار دنیای بزرگ بچرخد از نگاه کاربران
This won the national book award
Which didn’t stop me from becoming bored
Instead of this you could try a
Documentary called Man on a Wire
It’s also about Philippe Petit’s act
(Against which the cards were surely stacked)
To walk in the air between the two towers
For approximately 0.75 hours
On 7th August 1974.

By doing so he broke the law
But the DA for once did the right thing
And he wasn’t sent to Rikers or Sing Sing
Where PP’s feat was one of funambulism
Colum McCann’s is more like somnambulism
Smack-head hookers, radical priests
Mothers of Vietnam vets, deceased
Not so much New York as Cliché City
And lachrymose where it should be gritty
Sorry to say Let the Great World Spin
Is the 12th novel this year to end up in the bin

مشاهده لینک اصلی
A tightrope walker about to pull off one of the biggest stunts ever performed. A committed priest too busy looking out for the downtrodden to take care of himself. A pair of prostitutes who are also mother and daughter. A rich woman crippled by grief and her stoic judge husband. A couple of artists who fled the New York night life. Computer hackers. A brutal car wreck. Slums. Penthouses. Robbery. Charity.

It’s either another day in New York, or it’s the shittiest circus ever.

In 1974, a French acrobat named Philippe Petit made even jaded NewYorkers take notice when he illegally rigged a tightrope between the not-quite-finished World Trade Center towers and then spent the better part of an hour walking it over 1300 feet in the air. In fact, he didn’t just walk the tightrope, he danced, hopped and ran across it as well as laying down on the wire on his back at one point.

Petit’s stunt momentarily captivated the city, and Colm McCann uses that event as the center of a web of intriguing stories about a group of people from all walks of life find themselves unknowingly impacting each other. McCann shifts to a variety of different perspectives, even switching from first person to third person. Whether the narrator is a male Irish immigrant or a black female hooker or a Hispanic single mother, all the voices seem authentic and unique and all of them offer up differing world views that still share a common theme of trying to cling to what they love.

My favorite parts are the interludes where McCann describes Petit’s preparations and the walk itself. Petit was no Jackass-style daredevil. He spent over a year of careful planning and practicing for the moment when he and his crew could sneak to the top of the towers and rig the tightrope. The descriptions of the calm that fell over Petit as he stepped out on the wire and then proceeded to put on a show for the New Yorkers watching far below is almost enough to give a reader vertigo just trying to picture it. And of course, the shadow of 9/11 hangs over the book with the reader knowing that Petit practically walked on air at an incredible height between two objects that don’t even exist any more.

This is some top notch writing with a powerful story of how one man’s desire for a transcendent moment can spin off into more directions than anyone can possibly imagine.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Have you ever heard Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue? That first low note of the clarinet that increasingly vibrates on the ground before it jumps high, high to land with a soft boom of drums and a smooth backdrop of horns, a building for the clarinet to continue on with trills and soars, till finally the zenith is reached and the horn sounds its own quavering, the robust tone completing that architecture first sounded by the leaping thrills of the lone clarinet.

I am hardly the first to see this piece as a musical caricature of New York, but it is certainly a first for me to be reading and find my mind setting down notes as quickly as my eyes can scan in words. In addition, I have never even been to New York. So, what does it mean when an author is able to convey through simple prose the pulse of a city by appealing to a piece of work that, while in a separate sensory dominion, is as evocative as that far off metropolis whose sheer force of character gives it more personality than can sometimes be believed? It means they have a rare talent indeed.

But, in my mind, this book is better than the music, and thats not just my heavy inclination towards literature talking. Gershwin certainly conjures up the city, but it is New York at her best and brightest, just as it was masterfully portrayed in Fantasia 2000s animated rendition. As cheering and catchy as that sort of persona is, it is not nearly all of New York. I may have never walked the streets, but I believe that the author created each character that does with thoughtful consideration, and more importantly, empathy.

Vagabond priest, graffiti connoisseur, prodigy computer, mathematician griever, tortured artist in the least cliché sense of the phrase, the very embodiment of the words doomed by forces beyond ones control, and so many others. All drawn together by the wire-keeper, the sky-walker, the acrobat that took a city by storm and followed a passion that, as whimsical as its beginnings, had by its end reverberated its way through the hearts of millions and the pages of history books. This event may be the cornerstone, ferocious in its freedom and exuberant in its sheer existence, but the archway that encompasses it is filled with others whose raisons dêtre are no less complex or beautiful in their individual craftships.

While the tightrope artists story is inspiring, it is also a single side to the jewel of New York. It takes the stories of all those caught up with the single event to showcase all the other emotions and turns of fate that the city has at its disposal. Love, loss, pursuit of the broken dream, denial of the empty fate, conforming to ones lot life in every second that passes, judging others with every breath and not even the bare minimum of context. Finding, despite all that, a small measure of closure, one that the author neither saturates for emotional impact, nor biases in order to pass along personal prejudices.

Before I end this, I must admit that I didnt expect all this from a book highly lauded by the public eye. Shows how much I know. In fact, this book easily fits the bill as a gateway drug for the more esoterically architectured pieces of literature, the ones with endless streams of sentences and many plots scurrying around a story that is more concerned with structure and themes, and yet still has time to lovingly craft the characters sailing along the lines of print. So, if you have an eye on those larger-than-life tomes but are hesitant on committing to them too soon, try this one. Chances are, it will sing out in a joyous harmony for you as much as it did for me.
The core reason for it all was beauty. Walking was a divine delight. Everything was rewritten when he was up in the air. New things were possible with the human form. It went beyond equilibrium.

He felt for a moment uncreated. Another kind of awake.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Oh god, don’t make me look up! I was only looking at words in a book, but the image gives me instant vertigo! And I’m NOT kidding! There’s a crazy guy doing gymnastics on a tightrope between the Twin Towers, a million feet up in the air. All the other people can look up (and are obsessed with looking up, in fact, which is totally beyond my comprehension since I have to stare intently at my feet), so what’s with me? I’m afraid of heights, so I just can’t look. I just can’t. But how can just reading about this bizarre and incredible feat affect me physically, make me dizzy and nauseous? The power of books. Just blows me away.

This book is cool. It starts with a chapter about people looking up at the madman in the sky. The story is based on the real 1970s event of a guy who walked on a wire between the two insanely tall buildings. (Sort of eerie reading about these buildings that no longer exist.) Despite my vertigo, the story pulled me right in.

But now I have to go directly to my complaint board. Because even though I was so damn happy to get away from the crazy man in the sky, I wasn’t so happy with where the author led me next—to a small town in Ireland. Who says I want to hang out with two brothers in Ireland? The contrast was too fast. You know I love New York, and even though I wanted to avoid the guy on the wire, I didn’t say I wanted to go overseas right then.

The brothers bored me to tears and I felt no connection to them. They ended up in New York, and one of them was a priest who helped hookers. I usually like reading about squalor and down-and-outers, but for some reason their story left me cold. What a downer, after the excitement of the first chapter. But never fear, the next story had me mesmerized and mostly I liked all the other stories.

Notice that I’m calling them stories. That’s complaint number 2. I signed up for a novel, but for a long while it read like a collections of short stories, too independent. I wanted dependence, I wanted connection, damn it. It took a while for the stories to meld. Finally, a little later than I liked, the stories were woven into a nice tapestry; in fact, a beautiful tapestry.

All the sudden I was in love with the book. The language is to die for, lyrical and intense. The story so juicy meaty, the characters so interesting and complex. The interwoven plot is intense and heart-wrenching. And McCann is so damn profound, I was highlighting text like mad—sometimes whole paragraphs, in fact.

A cool thing is that McCann is able to use different styles of writing, and they all work. There’s stream-of-consciousness, there’s a cool monologue by a hooker who has a fantastic voice that is wise, funny, and sad. And then there’s just plain eloquent and jazzy text that flows so well, I was just in heaven.

Here are a few quotes. It was hard to pick among the zillion gems.

From the hooker’s monologue:

They got businessmen come in for a day. Whiteys. In tighteys. They lift up their shirts, you can smell the husband panic off them, like their wife is gonna come out of the TV set.

From a Park Avenue woman whose son died in the Vietnam War:

No newspapers big enough to paste him back together in Saigon. She takes another long haul, lets the smoke settle in her lungs—she has heard somewhere that cigarettes are good for grief. One long drag and you forget how to cry. The body too busy dealing with the poison. No wonder they gave them out free to the soldiers. Lucky Strikes.

One of McCann’s many wise comments:

Afterward, Gloria said to her that it was necessary to love silence, but before you could love silence you had to have noise.

I read McCanns short stories last year, Thirteen Ways of Looking. I loved it too, which led me to this book. I want to read more more more of his stuff. Absolutely.

So even though I got bored occasionally with a character who left me cold, mostly I loved this book to pieces. It’s about love and grief and bravery, and it really affected me. And it’s one of those books that inspires me to write, makes me want to play with words. I do think it’s a true masterpiece.

And it’s not McCann’s fault that I got dizzy—though next time I’d prefer it if he kept things lower, more like ground level.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
@Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting.@
-- Karl Wallenda, of the Flying Wallendas.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are almost ten years old, and yet, the wound is still very raw (for those not directly involved, I mean; for those that were there, the wound is forever). Books and films that have dared touch the subject have done so in one of two ways: with near-stultifying decorum and gravity, which makes art into some kind of vague, patriotic duty; or with obliqueness, in which an artist makes a post 9/11 point without even mentioning 9/11. Theres a good reason for this: any film or book that attempts to incorporate those events into @entertainment@ are instantly condoned. Thus, nearly a decade on, the best works about 9/11 include two Spielberg films (Munich and War of the Worlds) and a television show (Lost). These have nothing to do with the actual events, yet have everything to do with the actual events.

Let the Great World Spin is a 9/11 book that takes place in August 1974. It is a collection of interlocking stories strung together (natch!) by Philippe Petits walk across a wire strung between the Twin Towers. This event had been mostly forgotten until the Towers fell, when suddenly Petits walk became unbelievably poignant. Though author Colum McCanns story takes place long before the ghastly events of 9/11, before hijacked airliners, fireballs, and clouds of ash, and before Orange Alerts and the TSA and shoe-bombers and butt-bombers and all the rest, it is undeniably haunted by the future. This is made clear right at the start, when McCann describes the tumult caused by the wire-walker:

[T:]he rumors began again, a collision of curse and whisper, augmented by an increase in sirens, which got their hearts pumping even more, and the helicopter found a purchase near the west side of the towers, while down in the foyer of the World Trade Center the cops were sprinting across the marble floor, and the undercovers were whipping out badges from beneath their shirts, and the fire trucks were pulling into the plaza, and the redblue dazzled the glass...

Its almost as though he was describing something else... And if the point isnt hammered home enough, McCann later includes a photo of the wire-walker suspended between the Towers, with an airplane in the background. Yeah, its not too subtle.

But Im not really sure what to make of the allusion, just as Im not really sure what to make of the book. My enjoyment - and my internal Goodreads star-meter - ebbed and flowed as I made my way through.

The book is designed to frustrate in this manner. In a way, its more a collection of short stories than a novel. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, utilizing first person and third person storytelling, and even a little second person for good measure. Among the various characters are Irish brothers Ciaran and John @Corrie@ Corrigan, who live among the prostitutes of New York City; Claire and her husband Solomon, an upper middle class couple who have lost a son in Vietnam (Claire spends time with a support group, while Solomon is the Judge who arraigns an unnamed Philippe Petit); a South American nurse whos in love with Corrie; a black prostitute whom Corrie attempts to save; a young white girl named Lara who left her privileged upbringing to make time with a too-serious artist; and so forth.

Petit shows up a couple times, in chapters that end the first two sections of the novel.

Everything had purpose, signal, meaning. But in the end he knew that it all came down to the wire. Him and the cable. Two hundred and ten feet and the distance it bridged. The towers had been designed to sway a full three feet in a storm. A violent gust or even a sudden change in temperature would force the buildings to sway and the wire could tighten and bounce. It was one of the few things that came down to chance...

The structure of this novel is nothing, well, novel. It employs the kind of set up utilized by any number of cut-rate books and movies (Im looking askance at you, the Academy Award-winning Crash). Unsurprisingly, many of these characters meet and intertwine, in ways that are meant to surprise and enlighten; others share only a passing connection, perhaps as ephemeral as having both witnessed Petits wire-walk. Im not trying to be too down, here, because great care is taken in assembling thsi mosaic. Indeed, one of the enjoyments of the book is meeting a character, and later seeing that person through another characters eyes.

Im not a big short story guy, so that should factor into the relevance of this review. I prefer three acts and full arcs, rather than the precious snippets of illumination short stories ostensibly provide. As such, I was prone to frustration with Let the Great World Spin. Just as I was getting into a character (and actually figuring out who they were) the chapter would end and youd jump into someone elses life. Often times, you never go back, and many character threads are left dangling forever. And, as with any short story collection, there is good and bad. Some chapters were really powerful, others felt like padding. (And the ending, which flashes forward to 2006, for a blah-blah-blah epilogue, is particularly bad. Joshua Ferris got smacked down for this in Then We Came to the End, yet McCann seems to have gotten a pass. He also won the National Book Award, while Ferris was only a finalist, so go figure).

Maybe this is bitterness, but the book felt too perfect. To paraphrase Melville, I saw the authors foot on the treadle of the loom. There are times when you really notice the care taken with each word, but I dont mean this as a compliment. Despite having different characters narrate each chapter, all the voices sounded suspiciously the same: highly literate. This is a problem when you skip from an Irishman, to a prostitute, to a judge. Sure, theres an idiom here, and some slang there, and a little patois in the corner, but in general, everyone sounded the same. Moreover, McCann doesnt really play by his own rules. In one chapter, the narrator is describing his day at the beach, but then intercuts his story with a deadly car crash happening elsewhere. Now, this narrator wasnt in the car, so he wouldnt know what was happening, yet he describes the event as though he were in the passenger seat. Not only does he describe it, he describes it like National Book Award Winner Colum McCann: a sentence about the beach; a sentence about the car crash; a sentence about the beach; a sentence about the car crash. Back and forth like this. Its seamless and powerful writing, but its supposedly coming from a guy who never made it far past high school.

Its a quibble, to be sure, but it speaks to the lingering sensation I had, with every page, that I was reading something @important.@ I guess that would make the book @self-important,@ which it really kind of is.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
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