Some might argue that the character Corrigan in Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin is a main character. I consider him secondary because, while he’s at the heart of this moving novel about change and goodness, the reader never gets his perspective directly. For that reason, I list him as my favorite secondary character in a book. Here’s an excerpt from my review of the book on Goodreads:
We never hear from Corrigan directly, but we get a fully flushed-out character from hearsay. Think Maris on Frasier only nice. He just keeps getting more and more wholesome and that wholesomeness—the delicate kind that isn’t preachy or judgemental—radiates through the other characters in the novel.
To me, Corrigan illustrates the reason I dislike Oprah’s tv personality (sorry Oprah fans, just my opinion). Corrigan feels no need to wear his good deeds like a medallion; he does not do tremendously kind things for his own self-esteem or for an audience. He does them because it is the right thing to do. The fact that the reader learns of Corrie’s philanthropy is solely because we hear it from other characters. He would never tell us these things if he were to narrate. He’s a reminder to the other desperate characters populating this story that there is still good in the world.
I know a few people who started this book and put it down soon after because it didn’t capture their attention fast enough. I can see that; it starts slow. But as someone who stuck with it, I can attest to the beautiful storytelling and unforgettable imagery between its covers. The plot is gritty and hopeful and cheeky and inspiring. And the way the author writes how Corrigan touched all of the characters’ lives is such positive ways will make you want to walk out your door and help people.
If you try Let the Great World Spin and find yourself struggling, skip ahead to the second chapter titled Miro, Miro On the Wall. After reading that chapter, if you still aren’t interested, then this book is definitely not for you.