On “Let The Great World Spin”

As I read the first chapter in “Let the Great World Spin,” I, too, looked up to see the man standing on the ledge.  I became one of the invisible people standing on the sidewalk, wondering not if he planned to jump, but if he would attempt to walk across and fall.  I had an advantage over those in the crowd because, thanks to Cullen, I also could  look down over the entire event.  At first, I was amazed at the thoughts and responses of some of the people in the crowd, at the man yelling out of his window, telling the tightrope walker to kill himself so that everyone could get on with life.  The tightrope walker had caused a surge of emotions through the minds of his captive audience.  No one dared move and risk missing what he or she considered a possible suicide.  At times, I laughed at the comments of the people, not because they were funny, but because they were unbelievably real. People tend to love tragedies.
Indeed, that is what follows as the pages turn to a story about two young boys, raised by their mother.  They live in a place that feels drab, gray, and wet, a place where the sun never seemed to shine, a place on the edge of cliffs.  As they transition from Ireland to New York, the gray clouds of gloom follow them.  It seems that anything goes in this section of New York.  People become whom they will, a kind of live and let live, as each one struggles to exist.  This section of New York is a place where people take from life what they can at any cost, where life is lived on the edge, like walking on a tightrope.

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