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Fashion Book: Let the Great World Spin

2011 February 3

I read Let the Great World Spin for my failed book club last month.  Though the book club didn’t work out, I’m glad I read this book and got to listen to people’s different perspectives and opinions. It’s a sprawling narrative of New York in the 1970s, portraying a dizzying array of characters’ points of view, mostly on a single day in August, 1974. It happens to be the same day that Phillipe Petit made his famous tightrope walk between the Twin Towers, but the book uses this event as a simple cultural touchstone, something to link these diverging characters together.

Overall, McCann does an admirable job of making this pastiche work. However, I found some stories simply distracting because I had a hard time seeing where they fit in relation to the other stories and characters. But I liked the characters, I liked their messy relationships and flaws. I liked the way McCann portrayed New York at the bottom of its perpetual pendulum swing from the peak to the brink and back again. This is a book about the Bronx burning, a deluge of criminals, drug binges, discrimination, Vietnam, prostitution, faith, and redemption. It’s a book about impossible heights and even more dizzying lows.

I haven’t done a Fashion Book feature in a while, and at first I was deterred by the sheer volume of characters in this book, but I decided to focus on one, an artist in her 20’s who makes a fatal mistake that turns her life around. She and her husband are part of the drug-addled Max’s Kansas City/Studio 54 scene, struggling artists who are not exactly starving.

For her outfit, I wanted to give it a 70s boho summer vibe, but with the polished edge of money, where she comes from. I would wear this, in a heartbeat, especially that halter top.

Let the Great World Spin

Marc Jacobs Polka Dot Halter Top

Paige Premium Denim Hillhurst wide-leg jeans

Chloe wooden wedge sandals

Marc Jacobs D2 Hillsy Randy bag

Chan Luu embellished leather bracelet

Amrita Singh Claudia bangles

J. Crew summer straw hat

Tiffany & Co. milgrain wedding band

Barnes & Noble sketch book

One Response Post a comment
  1. February 3, 2011

    Great review – seems we had similar reactions to the novel.

    I love that you picked the artist to style, especially since I could only think of her in 1920s garb even after she’d stopped talking about the vintage lifestyle and dove into her and her husband’s lives in Manhattan.

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