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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: This Side of Brightness

This Side of Brightness - Colum McCann

Colum McCann is the newest addition to my list of authors whose bibliography I'd like to read in its entirety. This Side of Brightness seemed a good choice: I prefer to start with the author's earlier works, I had easy accessibility to a copy, and the blurb for the novel sounded right up my alley. So here it is.

I largely had a positive opinion of McCann's second novel. The premise is strong. The writing is solid. The story takes place in a tunnel beneath New York City—one part follows a member of the crew constructing the subway tunnel, the other focuses on a homeless man who lives in the tunnel three generations later. McCann handles both time lines with equal precision and care. And he ties it all together quite wonderfully in the end. I have no complaints...

but I never quite connected with the story. It's possible this was my own blockage: perhaps it just wasn't the right time for me to read this novel. Or there may have been some level of disconnect in the text: a slight gap in character development, perhaps, or too much authorial involvement. Either way, I appreciated the novel, recognized the workmanship, but just didn't invest in it in a way that felt satisfactory to me.