Let the Great World Spin, By Colum McCann

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The Independent Culture

Colum McCann's story pivots on the axis of one much mythologised scene of derring-do: the French aerialist, Philippe Petit's high wire stunt performed in the cloudless skies of New York in August 1974.

While this dramatic real-life moment of artistic anarchy brought the city, temporarily, to a halt, McCann imagines it taking place in the interlocking lives of six New Yorkers (as well as an account of Petit's lead-up to the act) from mothers mourning their dead sons in Vietnam to an Irish monk from the Bronx and a prostitute, to give us an eloquent and affecting portrait of the people and city, caught amid this inspirational act, which never sounds contrived or schmaltzy.