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This Side of Brightness: A Novel Paperback – January 1, 2003
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Walker's tale is told in alternating chapters with Treefrog's, who, before his slide into homelessness, chose a hazardous profession--this one high up in the bright sunlight--as a construction worker building skyscrapers. But madness has brought Treefrog out of the light and back to the tunnels that Walker helped dig as he scrapes out a meager existence among the drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, and petty criminals that make up the homeless community. But the grimness of McCann's tale is leavened by the beauty of his prose and the intimations all through the book that, even on this side of darkness, redemption is possible. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I have read about the men who dug the excavations for the caissons of the Brooklyn Bridge, but never for the hundreds of miles of tunnels throughout the boroughs of New York. Tunneling is an extremely dangerous occupation, and if possible is even more hazardous when tunneling under water. The men must work in highly pressurized rooms in order to keep the river from collapsing in upon them, and yet the pressure cannot be so great that the air violates the walls of the chamber blowing outward as opposed to being crushed. The book documents a true story of men that were literally pushed through the walls of the tunnel they were digging until ejected in to the river and then being blown out of the water. To live through such an experience has to rank with the most remarkable stories of survival.
The book shares two lives that are revealed in parallel as far as narrative, but are intertwined in practice. The lives of both men are occupied at various times by living/working underground, but ultimately one life is spent and finally ends beneath the river, while for the other it is a refuge that ultimately allows him to emerge once again to life above ground leaving his demons buried.Read more ›
Billed as a tale of the "homeless" I found it much more an adult type "Holes"--a magical story that weaves it's way through time, bringing us to a finale that's intertwined with the beginning. It's also a facinating look at the building of the train tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn and the men who toiled underground, now largely forgotten. I especially loved the way history repeated itself through time and space, making the tunnels themselves a character in the book.
You won't be disappointed if you read this great work.
Parallel to Nathan Walker's story, the reader follows another character, a homeless man nicknamed Treefrog who made his home in one of the many disused tunnels in New York in the 1990s. At first there appears to be no connection between Nathan and Treefrog but soon enough the reader discovers how and why they are linked in the novel.
With a marvellous narrative for its economy, Mr McCann constructs a beautiful epic story of laughter and tragedy, of sadness and small victories. It is an authentic account about homelessness, about living below the rich and about the stronghold of the past.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a beautiful book with more compassion and perspective than any other I can think of in recent history. Read morePublished 2 months ago by megraham
McCann never disappoints me, but I have NEVER cared so much about characters in a novel as I did as I read this one.Published 3 months ago by Amy Hale Auker
Colum McCann's writing is amazing. The story sucks you in and his prose is poetry.Published 7 months ago by cadawg
This is a heart wrenching story. Brilliant as it ties all the generations past and present into one tortured and tormented soul but leaves the reader with hope for his futurePublished 8 months ago by Morton Schwartz
Absolutely fascinating ... I had heard about the people who lived under the ground in nyc but this was an incredible way of talking about that life in the context of a novel ... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Orlagh Webb
For those who want to know more about New York Cities groundhogs - this is the book. Fascinating inter-twined story of family related to the building of the NY subway.Published 13 months ago by Beverly
Colum McCann does not disappoint. This is a dark and complex story that exposes some very sad ways of life. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Margaret Burke
Although this is a far darker novel than I envisioned, it holds together and exposes the beginnings of McCann's ability to intertwine unlike stories in a way that captivates.Published 14 months ago by janiegirl
Interesting insight into NYC back when tunnels/bridges were being built. A bit on the dark side!Published 14 months ago by Amy K