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January 05, 2012


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by Colum McCann


I really loved this book. I actually found myself disappointed at the beginning of each section because I wanted to read more about the characters in the previous section, but I'd always feel the same way by the time I reached the end of another section.

I often felt that way too, Liam. :)

This is the conflict of a multi-voiced, "American" novel. As a writer, you want to cram so many voices into a book to capture that Whitman-like voice of the All, but in doing so, you drain that narrative energy that builds with each character. You trade off culmination and energy for polyphony. I guess it depends on what the work is trying to achieve...This is a way cool discussion.

Hm, Tommy, that's interesting. It would be interesting to compare (annotate???) how the polyphony unfolds in Let the Great World Spin, and how it unfolds in, say, Mrs. Dalloway. Or, hell, in Whitman. Do the authors make different choices in capturing the voice of the All that undercuts, or enhances, the energy around particular characters?

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