Book Club: Colum McCann’s “Let the Great World Spin”

11 Jun

My Book Club is big on food. We take turns hosting and each host serves dishes based on food references in the book that we are reading and discussing. I decided to post photographs of the food and books at our get-togethers. I attribute direct inspiration to Dinah Fried’s Fictitious Dishes book.

We read Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin for our April 24th get-together (yes, I am rather late posting, so some details may be lost in the mists of time. In my defense I have had a lot of stuff going on – see my other blog The Prairie Line) .

Dorothy hosted a lovely evening at her home.


This is the main photo, with book. Dorothy kept adding food as the evening went on so I kept taking photos. We started with grapes and wine. Wine is always a part of our Book/Food Club. Just add wine!


Dorthy made the crustless cucumber sandwiches in honour of Tillie, one of the main characters, a prostitute. At one point in the book, she and her “Daddy” are driving around New York and they see a bunch of wealthy women at the Colony Club, and taunt them by yelling at them about cucumber sandwiches.


Pizza was one of the foods consumed in the book, mostly by the prostitutes. The oatcakes were in honour of two of the other main characters in the book,  brothers Ciaran and Corrigan, originally from Ireland.


We also had shortbread (again for the Irish brothers) and hot crossed buns because the Book/Food Club met near Easter. Any excuse for food is accepted, really. It was a chilly spring evening so Dorothy had a cozy, warming fire burning.


Here is the complete food listing. All of us in the Book/Food Club are in the history biz so we keep a journal of our get-togethers, both for the food and for our reviews of the book. We are pretty sure that several archives will be vying for this fascinating chronicle  in the future.

Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin was given high praise by all the Book/Food Club members. Harper Collins describes the book thusly:

Set in 1974, the novel begins one August morning as a tightrope walker makes his way, through the dawn light, between the World Trade Center towers, stunning thousands of watchers below. Using the true story of Philippe Petit as a pull-through metaphor, McCann crafts a portrait of a city and a people. Corrigan, a radical, young Irish monk, struggles with his demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gathers in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who have died in Vietnam, only to discover how much divides them even in their grief. Farther uptown, Tillie, a 38-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined to not only take care of her “babies” but also to prove her own worth.

Elegantly weaving together these, and other, seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory of 9/11 comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty and the tightrope walker’s “artistic crime of the century.” 

Posted by Truly Scrumptious


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