Colum McCann is fast becoming my all-time favourite author. I stocked up on all his books after reading Let The Great World Spin but only managed to read This Side Of Brightness. After reading TransAtlantic I was determined to read more of his work.
I remember when Dancer first came out. My mum read it and loved it but I dismissed it as a book about a male ballet dancer. HUGE mistake. Yes, the novel is about the life of Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev but it is so much more. In the hands of Colum McCann Nureyev doesn’t just leap from the page he seeps into every fibre of your being.
McCann tells the story of Rudolph Nureyev from multiple points of view but only sparingly uses Nureyev himself. We follow Rudik starting with his childhood in Russia from his father’s perspective and that of his first ballet teacher. We see his talent emerge and opportunities arise and switch to his sister, his teacher’s daughter and a rival. When Nureyev defects to the West we meet his shoemaker, his house maid and dance partners. And as his fame and fortune sky-rocket we are plunged into his excesses with his lovers and confidants. From Leningrad to London, Paris to New York and back again.
McCann holds nothing back. We get to intimately know both sides of Nureyev; the professional artist whose skill and talent is a marvel around the world and the dark side where ambition and desire will not be denied him. But both sides are the whole and the perfection he strives for in every performance is fuelled by his lust and passion.
I was in awe over how this novel was structured but also completely absorbed not just by Nureyev but all the characters around him. McCann’s skill as a writer and a storyteller is astonishing and I just want to devour every word of his writing I can find.