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On the High Wire Reviews

On the High Wire by Philippe Petit, Paul Auster (New Directions)

On the High Wire

Philippe Petit, Paul Auster (New Directions)

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 21 Jun 2019
ISBN: 9780811228640
3 stars out of 5
Roger Lewis
27 Dec 2019

"all that matters really is that he doesn’t actually fall for some time to come"

It is a scandal, as Paul Auster rightly says in his brilliant introduction, that ‘circus skills are assigned marginal status’, as if they are at best ‘a minor form of athletics’, belonging with gypsy orchestras, Pierrot shows and end-of-the-pier entertainments. Acrobats and aerialists, with their juggling and dangerous stunts, regularly perform ‘complex combinations, intricate mathematical patterns and arabesques of nonsensical beauty’. I have always maintained that the circus ought to be accorded equal status with the Royal Shakespeare Company or Covent Garden Opera — it should be Sir Norman Barrett, for example, or Lord Zippo. And as for Philippe Petit, despite his fondness for transcendental uplift and his efforts to convince the reader of the inner ‘lightness that is so magnificent at great heights’, all that matters really is that he doesn’t actually fall for some time to come.

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