Colum McCann, "Phreak"

A tightrope walker walks between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. At the same time, some early hackers call a phone nearby and ask onlookers what they see.
(from Paris Review, Fall 2008)

Up there, at the height of a hundred and ten stories, utterly still, a dark toy against the cloudy sky.
He could only be seen at certain angles. The watchers had to pause at street corners, find a gap between buildings, or meander from the shadows to get a view unobstructed by cornicework, gargoyles, balustrades, roof edges. None of them had yet made sense of the line strung at his feet from one tower to the other. Rather, it was the manshape that held them there, their necks craned, torn between the promise of doom and the disappointment of the ordinary.

I really enjoyed this story, though the hacker stuff made no sense to me. Why were they calling? How did they know the guy was going to be at the WTC that day? Did I miss something? Somebody else out there read it, you tell me. I especially dug the tightrope walker passages that begin and end the story. Read the beginning here.

2 thoughts on “Colum McCann, "Phreak"

  1. Anonymous

    It’s true that a man walked between the towers when it was being constructed. There is a childrens book about it… “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” or something like that. I think he was French?

  2. Anonymous

    Just saw a movie,downloaded from itunes,on the whole story
    about the frenchman who walked between the Towers.
    I didn’t think it would be as good as it was, it certainly keep me cheering for his
    Even thought I knew the whole
    time he would make it.
    Interestingly, his relationships did not.
    Ou La La so sad.


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