by Colum McCann
I was first introduced to Colum McCann via my contemporary Irish fiction course; we read Let the Great World Spin. McCann is a skilled and vivid writer, and he is very much a New York writer, as opposed to an Irish writer, despite being Irish. The beauty is in the details. McCann writes about what is unique and easily overlooked about New York.
The premise of This Side of Brightness is fascinating: tunnel people. The novel follows the lives of those who built the subway tunnels and those who inhabit them. I did have a little difficulty with the initial chapters because it was difficult for me to visualize, not only the process of digging the tunnels but the navigation of the tunnels and nests and cubby holes.
But I completely love this book; I couldn't put it down. McCann's characters felt real and true, and I didn't expect to get so invested in Treefrog. His underground world is amazing. I also enjoy when the characters in a novel are gradually shown to be intertwined, I feel like your brought along on the journey and develop with the characters. The ending of the novel is a little walking-off-into-the-sunset, but I can forgive that because I'm not sure there would be abetter way to end the novel. I highly, highly recommend reading This Side of Brightness, it is the perfect balance of love, heartache, danger, and true humanity.