JJ Abrams is a hot commodity at the moment, having launched the ever popular Lost and pulled Star Trek out of the quicksand. He has proven himself to be a very capable director, but I feel that he hasn’t truly worked with many great writers. Star Trek, for instance, was still hindered by a few moments of inorganic plotting. Now THR is reporting that Abrams is attempting to adapt Let the Great World Spin, a 2009 novel by Colum McCann that won the National Book Award. McCann is also penning the screenplay, so the quality of the writer is not in doubt; only whether he can spin together a capable script out of award winning gold. They are two different mediums, of course, that some novelists can occasionally transcend. John Irving did so for The Cider House Rules in 1999. Play writers like Tennessee Williams and Peter Morgan have also had success, though a play is a lot more like a film. THR describes the story:
“Spin,” McCann’s fifth novel, was published in June by Random House. Built around Philippe Petit’s real-life “artistic crime of the century” — when the Frenchman illegally walked a tightrope strung between the World Trade Center towers in August 1974 — “Spin” follows an ensemble cast of characters struggling throughout New York.
The book’s characters include a young Irish monk living among prostitutes in the Bronx; a group of mothers mourning their sons, killed in Vietnam, in a Park Avenue apartment; and a 38-year-old grandmother walking the streets with her teenage daughter. With comparisons to Don DeLillo’s work, McCann’s novel serves as an allegory of 9/11 and its aftermath.
I have to imagine that the story will be reverential to the 9/11 attack, especially so since the novel was written in a post 9/11 world. Neither United 93 nor World Trade Center, I feel, did enough to clarify the meaning of living in a post-9/11 world. This entire decade has been especially difficult to classify on film. Showing the events isn’t necessarily enough. This isn’t just a US problem, either. It’s a problem for the entire world. An allegory that takes it all into one big surveying scope would probably work better.