Walking a tightrope is a telling, if familiar, metaphor for the precariousness of contemporary life. Nowhere is this more so than in New York, the epitome of urban culture, a city of extraordinary wealth and extreme alienation where boatloads of immigrants from across the globe meet coachloads of itinerants from across America.
Colum McCann’s thrilling new novel features tightrope walking as both a metaphor and an actual event. In the first instance, it becomes a powerful image of both the ambition and the brutality of life in twentieth-century New York. As Judge Solomon Soderberg, one of its principal characters, puts