This Irishman , also a journalist, who lives and writes in New York City is vastly aware of the paramount importance of the Twin Towers in this place, so he has invented a wonderful story around a tight rope Walker between the two Towers ( based on a real exploit in 1974) seen by many thrilled passersby ,which de –dramatizes the tragedy of Nine eleven and shows how the end of the last century was experienced in New York . Some of the witnesses of the "Walker on Air " tell their stories in the most vigorous and profound manner, stunning you like an intrusion on your consciousness. Mc Cann makes you live in New York with the hookers, the preachers, the Viet Nam mourners of dead soldiers, the crazies , taggers and hackers , even downtown judges at the Tombs ; it is not a horror film or a lachrymose melodrama, its rough and comic language grits your ears ,rings true and brings the city alive like no other novel.
Physically devastating and emotionally stunning, the book is haunting and draining. A middle aged mother in her Park Ave swanky apt , cannot get over her only son's death in Viet Nam , who "did not die a hero", is in her grief, reduced to mourn with a group of other mothers having all seen the tight rope dancer in the Manhattan sky. This magic silhouette insanely incarnates for a moment their lost son.. These heart breaking stories and wasted lives, these constant efforts at decency as in all huge cities who devour men and women, intertwine , echo each other and all become a vast puzzle, a tapestry of human threads thrown into oblivion. In the end, it a great book on a City World which calls on all who know New York with the words, phrases ,slang and off- handedness so typical of that town ;it is hard to believe that McCann was born and raised in Ireland and only arrived in the city as an adult. He really knows it and loves it.