Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Let the Great World Spin

Currently I am only reading books on my book list (primarily self-complied so I can't complain) so yes, all of them are multi-points-of-view things. I'm trying to learn how to do it. Along with trying to learn how to write, in general.

I have recently finished Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, a tale ostentatiously about a man who walks on a tightrope between the Twin Towers. It's told from multiple points of view (obviously) and it starts out not being about the tightrope walker at all. Which I kind of liked. These stories or chapters, depending on if you want to argue the point of it being a novel or not, are about Irish brothers in New York city, their messy lives, love, obligation, passion, fear. It's late in the book before we meet the tightrope walker (before that, he's been noticed, but not in a life-changing way). The chapter with the tightrope walker is breathtaking, as are many other parts of the novel. But for me, it didn't come together as a linked collection, or novel in stories, which is what I was expecting. And I'm not sure each section, on its own, is satisfying enough to be a stand-alone story. I wanted something more threading the story together, more emotional impact from one person's experience to the next. This is probably just a taste thing. And, really, I liked the book. I just didn't love it.

Before Let the Great World Spin, I read Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. I really like Anne Tyler--most of the time. She's had a few misses (Saint Maybe) but overall you can count on her for a good story. This novel is also multiple POV, told from different members of a family. It worked for me, because it was about a single, central family, and because the structure of the novel felt like a family telling a story. And, Tyler did an expert job of weaving things in, mentioning something here, again there. She doesn't over-saturate her work, and this isn't the kind of novel that's going to make your head ache from thinking, but it's a good, solid story.

I also read a craft book: The Gotham Writer's Workshop. I've read a lot of craft books. I mean, A LOT and this one I liked. It felt like there were some fresh ideas, some good exercises, and a ton of very solid, very readable information about technique. I would pick this up if you're a would-be writer.

I am currently reading Love Medicine by Louise Erdich. I know, I know. Where have I been? So far, I'm loving it!

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