The Walk: Previously published as To Reach The Clouds Paperback – July 21, 2015
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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Every time I watch Philippe Petit perform, my heart beats a mile a minute, and I wonder, What is going through his mind and heart up there?’ Now I know. This book is as awe-inspiring as his accomplishments on the wire.”
Philippe Petit is an artist whose theater is the sky. In this absorbing book, he reveals himself to be equal parts Houdini, Nureyev, and da Vinci.”
How good to remember that morning in 1974 when a young man gave New York a gift of astonishing, indelible beauty. How good that he has sat down now to give us this lively and often heart-stopping account of how he achieved his masterpiece.”
It was Philippe Petit who connected the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in an act of beauty and ecstasy. Now that an act of terror has destroyed them both, his book resurrects and reunites them, in sheer defiance of gravity.”
About the Author
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This book is Petit's account of the entire project, from conception, to finish, to getting arrested, passing a psychiatric evaluation, and making good with law enforcement by giving a free performance for children in Central Park.
I'm fascinated by Petit's stunt on many levels. It was mischievous and audacious. When I first learned of it while watching the documentary Man on Wire on Netflix, I spent the beginning of the film thinking This guy is a moron. I ended thinking This guy is genius. There's also something poetic about an artist turning this symbol of commerce into a playground – especially given the eventual fate of the towers.
The main valuable lesson of Petit's feat is this: Have a big dream, but stick with small goals. Petit spent six years planning this coup. In the meantime, he and the team he assembled conducted hundreds of reconnoissance missions visiting the still-under-construction towers to collect details and plan. They built models and spoke to engineers. Petit did smaller stunts between towers of a cathedral in Paris, and between pylons of a bridge in Australia.
From the moment you see him on video, you can tell there is something special about Philippe. I bought this book because I saw part of his life story in the documentary, Man on Wire , which was turned into the Robert Zemeckis film, The Walk (a must-see in 3D). The sheer force of his personality is probably what convinced his lover and friends to accomplish "the artistic crime of the century." An event of this degree isn't likely to happen again for a long time.
This book is about that "crime"—walking between New York City's Twin Towers on a tightrope. Since I already saw the documentary and movie, this book felt like a rehash of the same events. The only difference is you get it straight from Philippe's head with his own words. To be honest, this whole event was so mind-boggling in that he actually accomplished it, that you have to read what he was thinking when he thought to do it.
If you haven't seen the movie or documentary, give this book a read. Experiencing this event through the eyes of the larger than life Mr. Petit will be memorable. Recommended.
Anyhow, upload it, read it, enjoy it, and feel free to love it or share my (minor) frustration.
Top international reviews
There is something terrifying about imagining the void that Philippe dared to fill. It's so much better because the challenge had to be organised like a bank robbery. The authorities would never allow it, and yet the act of crossing between the towers was an extraordinary example of the soaring human spirit. I remember the words of the cop in the film who said that Petit wasn't walking, he was dancing on the wire - and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end every time. Having seen the film, I wanted to read about the background in detail. I wasn't disappointed.
Soothing Music for Stray Cats by Jayne Joso, also brilliant.
Written by the young man who did these amazing feats.
WOW!! I was not to be disappointed and read it through from cover to cover in one sitting.
At times terrifying, always exhilarating, sometimes frustrating but never dull. This is one driven guy.
He may be an eccentric to many, myself included before I read this book, but he is an example of what can be achieved with determination, courage and oh yeah, practice, practice and more practice.
Phillipe I salute you.