There are books that tell a great story then there are book that function like a literary painting. They take a single snapshot of an event then paint with words with the event and the events around them. The effect if done correctly is beautiful. This is what Let the Great world spin is like.
On a late summer morning in 1974 people on the island of Manhattan look up and saw a tightrope walker between the towers.
What transpires below is average people living average lives all converge as the author paints a portrait of each one.
They are from all walks of life. Hookers trying to make a living and a socialite trying to get over the death of her son in the war. Such disparate lives are all somehow linked to a tightrope walker.
I think McCann has done a fabulous job of taking one event and shown how a bunch of seemingly random life's are really at its heart interconnected. We often fail to think of the beauty that is inherent in these interconnected lives. If we stopped to think that one action can have so much negative effect then maybe we would be more aware in choosing our actions.
A problem can occur if a reader attempts to read this linearly. This is a novel that takes the reader around and around and up and down there is no straight line from point A to point B. The beauty and the story is found in the circular ways and the what appears to be random interactions but really is not.
It is best to approach this work with as a literary painting rather than a novel with a nice arc in the plotline and a resolution at the end. In this novel there seems to be no beginning and end as the chapters weave in and out of charterers offering snapshots of what is happening right then,