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This Side of Brightnessby Colum McCann
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of Songdogs, a magnificent work of imagination and history set in the tunnels of New York City.
In the early years of the century, Nathan Walker leaves his native Georgia for New York City and the most dangerous job in America. A sandhog, he burrows beneath the East River, digging the tunnel that will carry trains from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Above ground, the sandhogs — black, white, Irish, Italian — keep their distance from each other until a spectacular accident welds a bond between Walker and his fellow diggers — a bond that will bless and curse the next three generations.
Years later, Treefrog, a homeless man driven below by a shameful secret, ures a punishing winter in his subway nest. In tones ranging from bleak to disturbingly funny, Treefrog recounts his strategies of survival — killing rats, scavenging for discarded soda cans, washing in the snow. Between Nathan Walker and Treefrog stretch seventy years of ill-fated loves and uninted crimes.
In a triumph of plotting, the two stories fuse to form a tale of family, race, and redemption that is as bold and fabulous as New York City itself. In This Side of Brightness, Colum McCann confirms his place in the front ranks of modern writers.
"McCann's writing rises above the earthbound and soars." Boston Globe
"It is partly a story of the men who dug and blasted New York's tunnels and of the high-steel workers who turned horizontal astonishment upon its vertical end, balancing hundreds of teetery feet above the streets to subdue the swinging girders and bolt them together into skyscrapers. Told with gripping realism and subtle detail, the facts — history researched — glow like jewels." Richard Eder, The Los Angeles Times
"A rarity in this cool era — the urban saga with a social conscience, employing the large canvas once used by Steinbeck and Algren." Ambrose Clancy, The Washington Post
"Inside the gritty and perilous lives of the men who dug the tunnels under New York's East River, Irish novelist Colum McCann finds poetry....McCann's prose shines like the waters of the East River on a bright winter day." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A poet's version of a family saga, mingling original and persuasive imagery with a story of great dramatic impact... A haunting novel, by a writer emerging as a major talent." Kirkus Reviews
"McCann is a fine and bold writer, as his previous books prove... but one is jolted by the level of understanding he conveys about the needs and compunctions of human existence." Bonnie Smothers, Booklist
Hailed for its "shining prose" (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and "gripping realism" (Newsday), This Side of Brightness is a powerful bl of imagination and history set in underground Manhattan. At the turn of the century, New York's sandhogs burrowed beneath the East River, digging the tunnels that would link Brooklyn to Manhattan; many decades later, those same tunnels offer refuge to the desperate and homeless. Spanning seventy years, Colum McCann's acclaimed novel tells the story of three generations bound to the tunnels by ill-fated loves, uninted crimes, and social taboos. Haunting and lyrical, This Side of Brightness delivers a tale of family, race, and redemption as bold and fabulous as New York City itself.
About the Author
Colum McCann is the author of Songdogs (Picador, 0-3121-4741-4) and Fishing the Sloe-Black River (Owl Books, 0-8050-4107-9). Born in Dublin, he lives in New York with his wife and daughter.
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