Amy Reads Books

A Perfect Blood

A Perfect Blood  - Kim Harrison Colum McCann’s 2009 novel had been on my Amazon wishlist for ages, but was seemingly sold out on the website. When I spied it in Waterstone’s therefore, it seemed right for me to pick up a copy. I’m not sure what first triggered me to add the novel, but books about New York tend to always fascinate me; and I’m really glad I read this.Set in the 1970s, McCann’s novel follows numerous characters (more than those listed in the synopsis) as their lives vaguely intersect on the day that Philippe Petit tightrope walked between the new Twin Towers. McCann’s New York is not the one that is recognisable to Gossip Girl or even Law & Order audiences, as McCann focuses on characters that are far from glamorous. Even Claire and Solomon, a wealthy couple living on Park Avenue are not shimmering, having been deeply affected by the death of their son in the Vietnam War. I didn’t really know anything about 1970s New York, and McCann’s descriptions really painted a hot and gritty city which was backed up by some Google research.In terms of characters, each section of the novel is told either from the perspective of or focusing heavily on a different character. McCann’s writing is especially effective in the stories of Claire the aforementioned bereaved mother, Tillie a lifelong prostitute and in the story of a young graffiti fan riding the subways. Although it did occasionally feel like reading a collection of short stories as opposed to a full novel, all the character voices were incredibly effective.There are clearly aspects of the novel that hinted at the tragic events of 9/11; continual reference to people stopping in the streets and looking up at the Towers and the use of this picture; which clearly brings to mind these events. However, McCann is not heavy handed with this reference, the Epilogue set in 2006 does not really mention 9/11 at all, aside from a reference to the extra tight security in airports.Let the Great World Spin is a fascinating glimpse into the unsavoury side of New York during a very specific period of history and McCann’s writing is incredibly evocative and moving, I highly recommend it.