A special thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I have been meaning to read Let the Great World Spin since purchasing it years ago and have yet to get around to it. After binging on Thirteen Ways of Looking, I'm putting Let the Great World Spin back to the top of the heap on my nightstand. Short stories are not usually something I pick up, and honestly, I requested the book not realizing this was a novella and short story compilation. McCann has such a gift with language and writing, I highly recommend picking up this collection that is framed by notes from the author. You won't be disappointed!
Thirteen Ways of Looking
This novella is so rich, I wanted it to be a full-fledged book! I was instantly drawn in and devoured every page of this mystery. McCann's character development is outstanding. The story draws heavily on culture/literary references, daunting to some, but really worked with the character.
The reader is introduced to varying perspectives from the main character's, the security camera footage, and the detectives'. I am not familiar with the Wallace Stevens poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" that is quoted at the beginning of each section and forms the basis of the title, so it may be a bit lost on me, but I understand the symbolism. I don't want to give anything away, there is closure to the story, but he does leave the reader hanging.
What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?
A writer walks through the steps of creating a story. McCann tells us what the writer imagines it would be like for an American female soldier station in Afghanistan on New Year's Eve waiting to call her lover. He writes all of his questions, his though process while creating the story. It was so effective and so vivid, and yet so short.
This story was my least favourite. A mom and her mentally disabled son are vacationing on the coast of Ireland and the son disappears. I can't put my finger on what I didn't like about the story, it certainly wasn't the writing, as a reader, you can feel the anguish of the mother, but maybe it was the subject itself.
This story about an aging nun that confronts the man who tortured and raped her 37 years prior when she learns that he alive and well and is a posing as something completely opposite to what she experienced. This story was so intense, well-written, and raw.