Who would’ve thought that in this craze-filled city, on an early morning in 1974, most every New Yorker would’ve stopped what they were doing to turn their heads and see, 110 stories above them, a man walking a tightrope from one twin tower to the other? Philipe Petit spent forty minutes dancing on air with a smile on his face, as if he were telling a joke to the world, proving that life is equally absurd as it is beautiful.The only other moment in the last few years that has been able to capture that kind of attention, especially in New York City with it’s unstoppable ambition, was when those twin towers fell. The comparison of those two awe-occurring moments, though not explicitly, is at the outset of Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann. The novel begins, “Those who saw him hushed.” Immediately, there is a quiet suspense in the language, and on the morning of 9/11, New Yorkers, along with everyone around the world, with their eyes glued to the television, hushed also. We saw those buildings blaze, then crumble, then gone.

That sort of feeling, the drop of the stomach, is present when you read Let The Great World Spin. Not because it leaves you feeling vapid, but because there are hard punches in the narrative, emotional undoing

s, and devastating degrees of faith that support the pillars of love and loss that seem to sway and crumble at their own accord. By using Philipe Petit as a focal point, McCann somehow suspends the present in a way that makes one evaluate the country’s cultural climate. And the composition itself, of the 1974 phenomenon and the fall of the Twin Towers, is beautiful. What is so admirable too is how human transcendence, ach

ieved through the stories of this inter-mingled cast, echos the lives of people experiencing life in the present: sons at war, the economic downfall, a distrustful government. The overlap is a sort o

f hologram, and the result is a heartbreaking literary work.

The cast offers different points of view and the structure as a whole is built like a collection of short stories. It is bound together by two Irish brothers named Corrigan and Ciaran who find themselves in the middle of New York meeting prostitutes, artists, housewives and judges, all of whom become effected by the state of the nation during this one day when a French man dares to defy all reason and walk onto a line of impossibility. I absolutely loved this book.

Colum McCann received the National Book Award for Let The Great World Spin in 2009 and currently teaches at Hunter College.

Reviewed By Mario A. Zambrano

12th Street Website:

Online Editor-in-Chief: Liz Axelrod
Online Literary Editor: Philip Anderson
Assistant Online Editor: Jennifer Giglio
Assistant Online Editor: Jeff Vasishta
Online Edit God: Patrick Hipp

12th Street Journal:
Editor-in-Chief: Mario A. Zambrano
Managing Editor: Liz Axelrod
Interview Editor: Patrick Hipp
Fiction Editor: Eric Marsh
Nonfiction Editor: Tony Grassi
Poetry Editor: Rebecca Melnyk
Readers: Jennifer Sky Band, Noah Beigelmacher, Myriam-Skye Holly, Rachel McAlpine, Adam Hansen
Editor-at-Large: Luke Sirinides
Faculty Advisor: Rene Steinke

MFA Teaching Assistants:
Print: Addie Morfoot
Online: Alex Wilson

Business first:

Tuesday, May 18, 7pm
12th Street Magazine Issue # 3 Launch
33 East 17th Street, Barnes and Noble Union Square
Celebrate the launch of the third issue of 12th Street, the literary magazine edited and published by the students of the Riggio Honors Program: Writing and Democracy. Robert Polito, director of the New School Writing Program, will host an evening of readings by students and novelists Mary Gaitskill and David Gates.

This could arguably be the most festive Riggio event of the year, so I encourage all who can attend to do so.

Now, a personal note: as another academic school year comes to an end, so must the majority of activities we – students, professors, scholastic community members – have come to embrace over the last nine months. For some, this time represents only a break in the pursuit of an extensive educational goal. For others, it is the culmination of years of hard work and academic devotion. I implore you all to be proud of what you have achieved.

That said, another year has come and gone for the staff of 12th Street magazine. As on-line editor, this was my first. The group of individuals who produced 12th Street, Issue #3 is bigger than the sum of its parts and will, unfortunately, exist only in the record of this year’s journal. There are those of us who will graduate next week. Many of us will return next year, perhaps in different capacities, and there will, of course, be new contributors to 12th Street, who will bring fresh and exciting perspectives to the magazine. But, the team that produced this year’s journal, like all things, must evolve. For myself, I am grateful and proud to say I was a part of this team, be it in my small (and yes, somewhat removed) position as on-line editor. Like many aspects of the journal, the 12th Street website is still in its infancy, and only time will mold it into the comprehensive media outlet I and the remaining staff wish it to be.
As on-line editor, I had a generous amount of unexplored territory to navigate. At times, I may have stumbled, to which I acknowledge my shortcomings. For all that I accomplished, I have to give credit to those who helped, particularly Pat Hipp, Liz Axelrod, and Julie Carl. Their assistance was invaluable this past year, and they have my sincere gratitude.

I don’t wish to make this a long-winded affair, so I’ll leave with this final request: contribute. Not just to the journal itself, but to the website, as well. No one appreciates print more than I, but this is the new media and it’s important that talented and authoritative voices be heard here. Bear this in mind next year when you’re developing your work for 12th Street. Whether it’s myself or someone new, 12th Street Online looks forward to your contributions.

Have a great summer.


Don’t forget to come by the Lang Center this Friday, May 7, for the finale in the Riggio Reading Series. Graduating seniors will be reading excerpts from their thesis projects. It’s an event not to be missed. Formal attire is expected.

12th Street Celebrates the Release of Issue Number 3!

The literary journal of The New School’s Riggio Honors Program, Writing
and Democracy, will celebrate the launch of its third issue at Barnes &
Noble in Union Square at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, May 18th. The reading will
feature New School undergraduate student contributors, Robert Polito,
Director of The New School Writing Program, and special readings by two
writers interviewed in this issue – David Gates and Mary Gaitskill. 12th
Street is edited and published by students in the Riggio Honors Program:
Writing and Democracy at The New School.

The Riggio Honors Program: Writing and Democracy is an innovative
sequence of writing workshops and close-reading seminars designed to
offer gifted undergraduate writers in the New School Bachelors Program a
balanced and substantial literary education. As one part of the Leonard
and Louise Riggio Writing and Democracy Initiative at The New School,
the honors program accents “the writer in the world,” and extends to
undergraduates the mission and accomplishments of the New School’s
well-known graduate program in Creative Writing.

Monday, Monday, Monday!

April 26th is the New School’s 12 Street Magazine launch party. Contributors will be reading excerpts from this year’s journal. Refreshments will be served.

The launch will be held at:

66 W. 12th St., Rm. 510
@ 7:00pm.

We look forward to seeing you there.

It is alive!

Don’t forget: Next Monday, April 26, is the New School launch of 12th Street: Spring 2010. More details to follow.