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Colum McCann


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#1 vagansmom

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 12:02 PM

The Irish author, Colum McCann, won the Dublin award, IMPAC, for his novel Let the Great World Spin. My link

I read that book a year? two years? ago and sometimes parts of it still wash over me. Haunting images, beautiful prose. I'm so glad he continues to receive recognition for it. The book also won the USA's National Book Award in 2009.

Has anyone ever read his book, Dancer? It's a novel, a partly fictionalized account of Rudolf Nureyev's life. I've just ordered it. Am thinking that McCann will be my summer author. I usually choose one to immerse myself in for the 2 months when I work an abbreviated schedule.

#2 dirac

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 03:05 PM

Hello, vagansmom, and thank you for posting. I've heard of McCann and his Nureyev novel but have not read it or any of his other works. I'm sure someone here must have dipped into it???

#3 Marga

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 08:37 PM

I read Dancer a few years ago. I found it difficult to separate fact from fiction - which I had a compulsive need to do - having read several Nureyev biographies. Difficult in that, knowing the real events as brought forth by others, my mind had to constantly assess and try to jump between the known events and the fabricated, especially since the fabricated was based on real-life events of the time and may well have happened to Nureyev. I felt like I was assembling a puzzle, maybe two puzzles! A fascinating read, for sure. I think it would have been easier to enjoy if I had known nothing about Nureyev!

#4 vagansmom

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 09:58 AM

Thanks, Marga. I'm like you in that I always need to know the truth, so I have really been on the fence about whether or not to read it. I have the same problem with docudramas and don't tend to watch them either. But McCann is such a good writer that I'm almost thinking it's worth it.

I strongly recommend Let the Great World Spin. It's about the NYC I experienced when I lived in the East Village in the early 1970's. McCann captures the humanity in all his characters no matter how desperate they are, and even though the subject content might be considered depressing, I found the book to be enormously uplifting. Its essence still creeps into my consciousness even though I read it over a year ago.

#5 Marga

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 03:20 PM

I think I could also 'get into' Let the Great World Spin. NYC was my stomping ground even though I didn't quite live there. City life was in my blood and I spent so much time and many stays there with people who lived in various parts of town that I would probably relate to the book quite intensely. NY was teeming was 'characters'! (I tried to get an apartment in 1969, but $300/mo. was just too high a rent for my earnings!)

Thank you for the recommendation!

#6 leonid17

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:21 AM

The Irish author, Colum McCann, won the Dublin award, IMPAC, for his novel Let the Great World Spin. My link

I read that book a year? two years? ago and sometimes parts of it still wash over me. Haunting images, beautiful prose. I'm so glad he continues to receive recognition for it. The book also won the USA's National Book Award in 2009.

Has anyone ever read his book, Dancer? It's a novel, a partly fictionalized account of Rudolf Nureyev's life. I've just ordered it. Am thinking that McCann will be my summer author. I usually choose one to immerse myself in for the 2 months when I work an abbreviated schedule.


I read the Mr.McCann fictional life of Mr. Rudolf Nureyev when it was first published.

It is with out doubt the worse book I have ever read in questions of actuality and taste concerning a major influence on ballet and dance of the 20th century.

I am sorry I did not throw a bonfire party for friends and others who had worked closely with Mr.Nureyev, because that is what the book deserved.

The fire for the disgrace of the author and the party as a celebration for the life of the extraordinary Mr.Rudolf Nureyev.

#7 toeprints

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:12 AM

I thoroughly agree with Leonid. "Dancer" is a piece of trash - insulting and vulgar. The author admits to knowing very little about Nureyev before he wrote the book. I don't know who he spoke to prior to writing, but obviously they were folks who disliked Nureyev or had never seen him dance. Just fabricated trash. I am surprised that Rudi's doctor stated that he thought it was great - shame on him. Of course, that doctor appears to enjoy the limelight a little too much. No patient confidentiality in his vocabulary.

#8 vagansmom

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 04:18 PM

And now I want to read it more than ever.

#9 leonid17

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:15 PM

I thoroughly agree with Leonid. "Dancer" is a piece of trash - insulting and vulgar. The author admits to knowing very little about Nureyev before he wrote the book. I don't know who he spoke to prior to writing, but obviously they were folks who disliked Nureyev or had never seen him dance. Just fabricated trash. I am surprised that Rudi's doctor stated that he thought it was great - shame on him. Of course, that doctor appears to enjoy the limelight a little too much. No patient confidentiality in his vocabulary.


Thank you <toeprints.> Your last comments confirm that notoriety has no shame.

For me,” Dancer“ encapsulates the exploitative financial nature of the vulgar, that became part of the new world zeitgeist when values imploded with naked greed and prurience at a new public level from the beginning of the 1970’s and is still no doubt inhabiting the pages of tabloid journalism.

Hard edged authors do not have to sink to that level and I feel Mr. McCann goes not just to the edge but over it in “Dancer” and it really does matter how you dress a book up as a novel/biographical study when clearly it is not the latter.

The real Mr.Nureyev achieved real fame for his art and not for his personal life. The latter of course, has attracted a number of disgusting grave diggers and muckrakers, who have course undoubtedly profited from what they have written and exposed this to a gullible public who may well see Mr.Nureyev in an entirely different light to that which he shone on international dance stages.

In writings on anyone famous because of their artistic contribution to a particular oeuvre, one does not seek a hagiography, but one does seek a balance and an accurate timeline of events that is not the distortion of what after all remains a private life.

I have never quite understood the vulgarity of wanting to know what an artist’s private life is about. No person bought up with decent values would want to know the intimate activities of any other person.

The discussion should remain on what they did in the public arena which has given them their fame otherwise people move into a world of degenerate values.

Performing artists belong to themselves, their art and history. I find no evidence that private lives contribute as much to their art, as does their innate skills, talent and the guidance of teachers and choreographers, as is the case in the context of a dancer such as Mr. Nureyev.

My very personal view is that why would any reader want to cross the line and their memory become tainted with gossip, innuendo and salaciousness in any book where the artists fame came from their art. Just because it has been written, is not excuse enough.

I regret I had no inkling as to content when I purchased, "Dancer," if I had, I would not feel so soiled by the experience.

Mr. Nureyev was never famous for being famous. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world actually witnessed his fame on stage and not just either in the press or in an invented narrative.

History is always fascinating and for those seriously interested in the art form ballet there are fortunately, always authors whose biographical studies deal primarily with the art of the artist.

Reading “Dancer” reminded me of Phillip Freneau’s, “The Scurrilous Scribe” which is as apt today as when it was written so long ago and undoubtedly, confirms the status of modern tabloidism and regrettably its dire influence on those that do not either have real knowledge or judgement in such matters.

EDITED

#10 vagansmom

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 05:24 AM

My very personal view is that why would any reader want to cross the line and their memory become tainted with gossip, innuendo and salaciousness in any book where the artists fame came from their art.


Because of the two strongly negative comments on this thread and other positive comments elsewhere from personal friends known for their integrity, this reader now wants to form her own opinion.

#11 leonid17

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 12:10 AM

My very personal view is that why would any reader want to cross the line and their memory become tainted with gossip, innuendo and salaciousness in any book where the artists fame came from their art.


Because of the two strongly negative comments on this thread and other positive comments elsewhere from personal friends known for their integrity, this reader now wants to form her own opinion.


To paraphrase Socrates, "All our beliefs are merely opinions."

#12 dirac

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 11:42 AM

Thanks, Marga. I'm like you in that I always need to know the truth, so I have really been on the fence about whether or not to read it. I have the same problem with docudramas and don't tend to watch them either. But McCann is such a good writer that I'm almost thinking it's worth it.


The novel form allows a writer liberties that he wouldn't be able to take in nonfiction and among them are the freedoms to speculate, invent, streamline events, to achieve an imaginative reality. Also, at least with a novel one know's it's a novel, whereas with some biographies it's possible to feel that the biographer is imposing a narrative on the messy events of a life. Non-fiction is no guarantee of truth, unfortunately.

#13 Mashinka

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 02:19 AM

Some interesting opinions are being aired here. I didn't bother with this book simply because it was fiction - thinking it pretty pointless to turn into fiction a life that was in reality extraordinary by anyone's standards.

I buy every book I can lay my hands on about Nureyev and even added one to my collection when I was in Paris earlier this year (Rudolf Noureev: Images D’Une Vie). A couple of the books published after his death have been shockers and I strongly advise anyone against buying either Nureyev by Peter Watson or even worse The Real Nureyev by Carolyn Soutar, the only reason I haven't binned them is that both books have pictures unavailable elsewhere. Sadly most of the biographies have been written by people that only saw the tail end of his career and indeed seem not to have cared much for his dancing at all. During his lifetime Clive Barnes, Alexander Bland and John Percival produced books that gave some insight into his professional life and I would say these are a more valuable record than the biographies by the get-rich-quick merchants that cashed in on his fame.


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