National Book Award, 2009
Posted 21 October 2009 - 12:02 PM
The National Book Award's 2009 shortlist.
I haven't read any of the finalists, but I've heard good things about Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin and Greg Grandin's Fordlandia.
Any thoughts on these? There are a few I want to check out.
Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:39 PM
Posted 31 January 2011 - 09:29 AM
Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:26 AM
The first section is very moving indeed; it follows a pair of Irish brothers--one a monk of some sort working with prostitutes in New York and the other an aspiring writer of some sort--the monk-brother is an interesting character who seems to need to take the suffering of everyone around him on to himself.
Of course, that's my reaction at not even halfway through--but, so far, I'm really digging this book.
Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:56 AM
If I have a complaint, it’s that the characters come together too pat. I know, that’s how fiction works, but there’s a fairly large number of coincidences needed—particularly in the last half of the book—in order to weave these lives together into a sort of tapestry.
Still, the book definitely moved me; there were sections (during Tilly’s story, for instance) where I was very moved indeed.
Having finished it, and read some of the supplementary material, it looks like McCann was going for a kind of hope at the end. But it’s a hopeless hope (just as the monk Corrigan’s faith is a faithless faith). Which is just as well. The book’s about tentative hope. I can’t find the page now, but there’s a line about the light at the end of the tunnel: sometimes the tunnel is necessary to make the light bearable. And then there’s this:
The whole book’s full of passages like that—beautiful, a little bleak. Hopeless hope. Faithless faith.
So it’s a powerful book, but I hesitate to make any precise call on it because it’s liable to be dismissed on the grounds of being too bleak or something like that. Such a dismissal might be fair, but I was reasonably impressed all the same.