colum mccann


Colum McCann: Why Should I Read YOUR Book ????

colum mccann

ok, Colum, so why should we read YOUR book ???


I’m going to answer this question, Rauan, because


1) you come well recommended


2) I am assuming, here, that you are behaving in good faith



3) I’m assuming this interview will get better

But, that being said:

You should read my book because it’s masterful and absorbing. Have you read the insightful blurbs on the handsome back? Or how about the glowing reviews and testimonials that precede the brilliant text? Quotes excerpted from places, you know, like the New York Times, Time Magazine and Bookslut.

Also, do you realize I’ve been translated into over 75 languages and that my books are available in airports and minimarts all across the world? Even in America I’m adored by the young, the old and the handicapped. And on top of that my books have been described as “page turners,” “psychologically immaculate,” and “structurally, marvels of audacity rivaling Clare and Spenser.” My books, you might know, have garnered tens of thousands of favourable ratings on Goodreads. (Aren’t you even a little jealous, Rauan? I just checked you out on Goodreads. ha. ha.)

My prose stylings, anyways, to be sure, are the joy of book clubs everywhere and have been heralded “as smooth as butter. . .and just as important.” But I’ve always been a low-key kinda guy and rather than trot out, spin, dazzle and spout all sorts of garbage and vanity I’ll finish you, and my answer, off with this anecdote the meaning of which I think’s crystal clear—

The other day I was lunching in The Village with Kishi Bashi, Junot Diaz and Dan Brown. The food was some kind of casual, fusion Thai, I believe, and the conversation was light and amiable. You might even say “breezy.”

Kishi mused, I think, about repotting what he called a “really aggressive avocado.” Junottransatlantic told about some glitzy navel ring he couldn’t keep his eyes off one night at AWP in a sordid bedroom with a married woman, trying to unleash nearly a decade’s worth of seething, organic frustration. O, it was a gorgeous day! Junot was insatiably tweeting merrily away (I think he’s “Ted Hash-Berryman”), while Dan, on the other hand, just stared off into thrilling space– and we drank (and we drank!) so much cheap, slippery wine and the selfies with the buff young waiter were like an astonished adjective, timeless, incandescent, but fringed also with a kind of predatory nimbus head. And I’m not sure exactly how it happened (O, the Braille of our dreamy lives!!) but suddenly we were talking about the “the relevancy and future of Wisdom Literature in the Western World.”

Junot claimed he could describe “Wisdom Literature” in less than five words. And with no hesitation Kishi claimed he could it under four!! The atmosphere was electric, like a a tiny red umbrella. Or a candle. I could hear violins. I even thought I detected a tired old code in Brown’s stone eyes. They all looked at me. A long silence ensued. I dabbed at the corner of my mouth with a temple-and-elephant embroidered serviette, then stood up, made a small bow, and began:

“Gents, when I was a mere wee lad lurching about on the streets of Killarney I was hijacked once by a dusty, old lad who dragged me into an alleyway, grabbed my crotch and whispered:


I think Kishi paid the bill that day. with a grin like a neon, rotating skull.

(Rauan Klassnik, 9/2014,  Kirkland, WA)

September 16th, 2014 / 9:00 am
Colum McCann

Colum McCann — Transatlantic

……….what was Colum McCann, National Book Award Winner, thinking when he posed for this author pic ??

“I am profound. I am sooooo profound.” —  ??

“This is sure gonna sell a lot of copies!!!” —  ???

“I have been translated into 35 languages!!” —??

“What would James Joyce say about this???”  — ?

“Is this really a good idea??” —-  ????

“The scarf’s the clincher!!” —-  ????

______________________________   ???????


Spinning, Spanning, Spun

I have the antibodies for an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Disease, which is the precursor to hypothyroidism. It’s not so bad when kept under control, but occasionally my thyroid gets sluggish, poor guy, and the great world spins. It fucking spins. This morning, amidst wrinkled-sheets depression, difficultly swallowing, extreme cold, racing heartbeat, and some vertigo, I finished reading the 2009 National Book Award Winner, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

I think maybe I’ve been reading this book since 2009, with my own world spinning much more viscerally around me, with seemingly more interesting books finding their way into my view.  I wasn’t happy about this book for a while, and I couldn’t make myself finish it. The shifting voices wrenched me out of “the zone.” (Even though I loved, for instance, Olsen’s Calendar of Regrets, the characters of which had much more tenuous connections.) Many of said voices, particularly McCann’s take on a black hooker, seemed inauthentic and weird.

The book centers around one real-life event, Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the Twin Towers, but it’s about much more: the interconnectedness of the fictional people surrounding the event. So I sat down this morning, feeling all thyroid-y and spinny and fatty, and I finished the book. Maybe it’s because my world’s spinning at the moment, but I finished that last page and I cried.  I thought back to all the beautiful parts of the book, and I realized that I could probably forgive some of its missteps simply for the way it weaves the changed and changing lives of strangers together–from a hippie Irish monk to bald circuit court judge to a group of mothers who’ve lost their sons in Vietnam to a mother-daughter prostitute team–for the beauty of chance, how chance dangles like a tightrope walker above us, in Ferlinghetti’s words, “constantly risking absurdity and death.” I don’t know. The jury’s still out, I guess, until I get my thyroid levels back in order.  Days like these,  I can’t handle it, reader, that you and I could be connected by the invisible wire of something we both experienced separately many years ago, or something we both missed altogether, the absence of which has shaped us.

December 30th, 2010 / 1:17 pm