Writer: Colum McCann
Publisher: Random House
Edition: Trade Paperback (2009)
Bought from: Yuska (IDR 20k)
It was August 7, 1974, and a man named Philippe Petit walked a tightrope wire between the World Trade Center towers. From this focal point, Colum McCann has woven several beautiful stories into one wonderful book.
There was an Irish man came to New York City, visiting his brother, Corrigan, who devoted his life as a monk and lived among the prostitutes in Bronx, tried to help them having a better life. There was a rich housewife living in Park Avenue, mourning for his beloved son who was dead in Vietnam War. This lady, Claire, tried to find solace from women liked her, who also lost sons in the war, only to find that she felt more lonely than ever.
Then there was a woman living in upstate New York, a fading artist whose life started to ruin because of drugs, and a fatal accident opened her eyes that this was not the life she’d imagined for her to live in. And there were of course the prostitutes, the brazen Tillie and her daughter Jazzlyn, both were helped a lot by Corrigan the Irish monk. But one ugly accident in that faithful day, changed their lives forever.
Colum McCann masterfully wrote pieces by pieces of the lives of these ordinary people, with their ordinary problems. But among them, there was one eventful thing: the tightrope walk between the highest tower on Earth. While the New Yorkers surrounding the towers with their heads held up high, hoping for the best or for the worst to happen to the walker, our characters in this book tried to hold on to their everyday lives. Tragedy and accident changed their lives, but the city kept on vibrating, the people kept on moving. And the stories kept on going, with or without them.
I fell in love with this book because of two main things:
1. Beautiful stories and flowing words. This is my first time reading McCann book and I can tell that he’s a killer writer. He can use any word he wants, and weave it into a wonderful sentence without being pretentious or boring. I enjoyed his choices of words and flowing sentences. I admired his description of the characters, are all ordinary people, but every one of them is important in their own way. What can I say, it’s talent. Not everyone can write something like this.
2. The description of New York City. I’ve only been to NYC once (or twice if you counted a short transit in Bronx couple of years ago) and it had always become my personal favorite. I love the vibrant energy of the city, the lights and buzzes of people, the feeling that even in the crowded streets you can be a part of the city – but also not a part of anything. I love the complications and the chaotic atmosphere. I love NYC and this book made me wanted to visit it again and again. Colum McCann can describe the city really well, not only the good things but also the dark sides of it. He can dig into the soul of the city, and that is the one thing I love the most about this book.
Check out the excerpt below if you want to know what I mean:
The city lived in a sort of everyday present. It had no need to believe in itself as a London, or an Athens, or even a signifier of the New World, like a Sydney, or a Los Angeles. No, the city couldn’t care less about where it stood. He had seen a T-shirt once that said: NEW YORK FUCKIN’ CITY. As if it were the only place that ever existed and the only one that ever would.
New York kept going forward precisely because it didn’t give a good goddamn about what it had left behind. It was like the city that Lot left, and it would dissolve if it ever began looking backward over its own shoulder. Two pillars of salt. Long Island and New Jersey.