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.

Tags: , ,


  1. Spinning, Spanning, Spun | the blog poetic

      […] I just finished reading Let the Great World Spin, the 2009 National Book Award winner, by Colum McCann. Here’s what I say about it on HTMLGiant. […]

  2. Sara H

      I’m just about to finish this book right now, so while I have yet to be hit by its closing sentences, I quite like the closing one to this post.

  3. H Lime

      I have Hashimoto’s, but the docs promptly put me on synthroid… it’s completely removed any symptoms. Aren’t you being treated? Or are the complications?

  4. Darconville

      This book’s corny as all shit. The smart black hooker’s jailhouse monologue? One of the worst things I’ve ever finished.

  5. Michael Filippone

      I was a click away from ordering Calendar of Regrets a few hours ago. I’m kicking myself now. This is not the first time his has happened with this book. I Can’t be too upset though because I chose Museum of the Weird instead, and I don’t expect to be disappointed with that one.

  6. JimR

      Beautiful post, Alexis. Be well!

  7. 6strhdgfdhgf

  8. Sirk Terces

      I bought into the whole experience of this book and finished it quickly. But the more I thought about it the more I said: I … don’t know about that …

  9. Vgkmne88j

  10. alexisorgera

      I’m just trying to do it the homeopathic way before I commit to the synthroid. Occasionally I slip, forget there’s anything wrong with my thyroid, though.

  11. alexisorgera

      yeah, it’s day-after-post and it’s not resonating all that much. I still hold that there were some really nice parts…

  12. alexisorgera

      Thanks, Jim!

  13. Your Name
  14. Hghhk4

  15. Hghhk4

  16. Hghhk4

  17. Yhyhg