Sep 1, 2012

This side of brightness - Colum McCann

This side of brightness - McCann, Colum

Summary: Tells the story of a group of tunnel diggers in New York and how a spectacular accident underground changes their lives and affects the next three generations - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
/*Starred Review*/ It is 1916, and somewhere under the East River in New York, the sandhogs and other workers labor through mud and muck and darkness to build a transit system for a fledgling metropolis. The sandhogs, the men out front who burrow through the earth, are the physically strong and mentally tenacious among the working poor; many of them once labored in mines. The earth is close in life and death; but they take pride in their work, which allows them a livable wage at the cost of their health. On this side of brightness, it is anathema to play the petty game of race that sports itself on earth's surface. Nathan Walker, a young black from Georgia, handsome, well formed, and generous, who reminds one of Melville's lovely Billy Budd, comes to New York with love in his heart for his home near the Okefenokee swamp and will build a bond with his fellow sandhogs--two Irishmen, Conn O'Leary and Sean Power, and an Italian, Rudy "Rhubard" Vanucci. Their bond is cemented in a way they could not have dreamed of when a small hole in the tunnel wall results in a spectacular river blowout. The tragedy shapes Walker's life in a story that spans generations. McCann is a fine and bold writer, as his previous books prove (Songdogs, 1995, and Fishing the Sloe-Black River, 1996). So it's not surprising to find him tackling the peculiar, unexplored, and violent nexus between the downtrodden and persecuted Irish and African American in a flawed promise land; but one is jolted by the level of understanding he conveys about the needs and compunctions of human existence. ((Reviewed March 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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