Let the Great World Spin

Reading Time: 2 minutes

by Colum McCann

The year is 1974. It is morning on a hot August day. People are rushing to their workplaces or rushing home from the night shift. It is a great torrent of people, like every day in Manhattan. They are shoulder to shoulder, almost touching in physical space, but they are miles apart in the lives they are living. Suddenly one of them looks skyward, and exclaims at what he sees. In the crowd many just keep walking, never looking up for fear of falling for someone’s practical joke. But for those who do raise their heads to look, there is such a sight to be seen. A man has strung a wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. He is walking 110 stories above the street below. He doesn’t just walk, however. He runs back and forth, jumps, bounces, sits, lies down, and springs up again. He is a master of his craft and every bit the entertainer. He has prepared for this moment for a long time. The people below are mesmerized by the performance. For a moment they are lifted out of business, fear, loneliness, tedium, whatever chains them to the world, and they soar with the walker.


This event is the pivotal point for the stories in this book. The characters, though they have seemingly no relation to each other prove to be