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Nine-eleven or not

On (and from and for) Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann.

***

In the first chapter (and only, really, on your second reading) do you feel it:

"Those who saw him hushed.  On Church Street.  Liberty.  Cortlandt.  West Street.  Fulton.  Vesey. [...] Some thought at first that it must have been a trick of the light [...] it might be the perfect city joke... [...] people gathered, tilted their heads, [...] until all were staring upward at nothing at all."

Namedropping.  Foreshadowing.  Can you foreshadow something, when what really happens, is that later, that something is no longer there to block out the sun? No longer there to cast a shadow? Fore, ever, after.

He is careful in that first morningís description of the city -- car horns, garbage trucks, ferry whistles and fire hydrants -- even the M22 bus and the Woolworth Building -- he is careful not to let anything give away the fact that this is 1974, and not a Tuesday morning ten years ago.

***

Talking about fear, in New York City in 1974:

"ĎBits of it floating in the air,í he said.  ĎItís like dust.  You walk about and donít see it, donít notice it, but itís there and itís all coming down, covering everything.  Youíre breathing it in.í

***

The city as art (the city as other things):

"But what is it about the notion that she doesnít like? Amazing, indeed, yes.  And an attempt at beauty.  The intersection of a man with the city, the abruptly reformed, the newly appropriated public space, the city as art.  Walk up there and make it new.  Making it a different space.  But something else in it still rankles.  She wishes not to feel this way [...] why shouldnít every man in the air appear to be her son?"

***

In the early part of the book there is a line about freedom.  Ciaran is waiting for Corrigan -- his brother -- to react.  He has just Ďturned on himí about his life and what he (Ciaran) thinks of it:

"I kept waiting for him to give me some sort of bitter benediction -- something about being weak towards the strengthless, strong against the powerful, there is no peace save in Jesus, freedom is given, not received, some catch-all to soothe me, but instead he let it all wash over him."

...and then Claire, thinking about Joshua and the war he died in:

"All this talk of freedom.  Nonsense, really.  Freedom canít be given, it must be received."

***

"I will not take this jar of ashes."

"This is not my life.  These are not my cobwebs.  This is not the darkness I was designed for."

***

And then, nine-eleven or not.  There are some lovely lines.

"I can still after all these years sit in the museum of those afternoons and recall the light spilling across the carpet." I love the idea of that museum of afternoons.  I love that this sentence needed no punctuation.

Later on, he talks about "a September day when everything seemed split open with sunlight..." Again, you can see it above you.  But itís not that day.

"Thatís what I like about God.  You get to know Him by His occasional absence."

In the playground at St. Maryís: The men sat rooted like Larkin poems."

The day of the funeral.  Ciaranís memory of wheeling the piano out into the street along the seafront in Dublin.  The way his story, the image, swirls downward and away and leaves the present: "now, today, and forever, his dead brother nowhere to be found."

And maybe my favorite of the whole book:

He let the pieces of the napkin flutter to the floor and said something strange about words being good for saying what things are, but sometimes they donít function for what things arenít.  He looked away.

***

Carlotta recommended this book to me -- a little yellow sticky on the front cover says in red felt-tip: "Read me! (Please)" -- and I can see why she loves it.  Carlotta who wants to go on another road trip soon, so we can play her favorite game from childhood: "You take turns making up stories about the people in the cars, imagining their lives."

I can see why she loved this book.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[domenica 11 settembre 2011 ore 20:40:08] []