30 October 2012

We are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen


            I have just finished reading Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin". I cannot help but use the trite description that it is indeed masterful. Colum is one of us New Yawkers; he captures the city from within the heart of the town, not as an outside observation (ick). In this piece for The New York Times, McCann writes of the dog days of baseball in New York, expressing a very spiritual sentiment for such an Earth-based game.
          To finish a book such as this is to end a poetic journey that makes you want to linger over the last dozen pages longer. You identify with the spirit of the book, with the character, and you wish you could be pals with the author (a la "The Catcher in the Rye") because they are the only connection to this world of which no one else has ever seen. I might mention that moment when you finish a book, look around, and realize everyone is just carrying on with their lives as though you didn't just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback. 
Random House, published 2009
          "Let the Great World Spin" belongs to the newly forming genre of post-9/11 arts, literature, and music. Post-9/11 is a largely retrospective genre. I would define it as an art made as a reaction to or influenced by the events of September 11, directly or indirectly. The films "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", "The Hurt Locker", and to an extent (one of my favorites with George Clooney) "Up in the Air", as well as the books "Three Cups of Tea" and "Someday this Pain Will Be Useful to You", and several pieces by the American composer Rene Clausen are all considered a part of post-9/11 art. So is the children's book and Caldecott Award recipient "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers", which in fact is related to McCann's novel. It is quite amazing to see this timely thematic genre form within the dawn of my lifetime.
          The arts created in response to September 11 I perceive to be usually unafraid to reveal the brokenness of the world. We have become distrustful of each other on the outside as we line up at airport security checks, walk past each other in the city at night, or wear apparel of cultural nature, be it the hijab or a chained cross.  But within ourselves we know we want to trust our neighbor, we want to embrace anyone else who seeks peace.