Sunday, May 31, 2009

Falling Man

From Singles 2009

He said, "It still looks like an accident, the first one. Even from this distance, way outside the thing, how many days later, I'm standing here thinking it's an accident."

"Because it has to be."

"It has to be," he said.

"The way the camera sort of shows surprise."

"But only the first one."

"Only the first."

"The second plane, by the time the second plane appears," he said,"we're all a little older and wiser."

Listened to this one on CD. I found the book to be really compelling - though the experience was oddly unemotional. Not what I'd expect from the topic of 9-11. Part of it was the reader. (In reading text from Amazon's "Search Inside" function, I am convinced a large part was the reader.) Part of it was the character of Keith- who was in the World Trade Tower. He is introduced as he is walking away from the site. He's covered in debris with multiple small injuries and in a state of shock. This emotional numbness follows him.

Falling Man focuses on 4 people. Keith - above. Lianne - his wife who is also coping with her mother's failing health, her father's (long past) suicide, and an obsession with Alzheimer's disease. Hammad - one of the terrorists who participated in the attack. And, the "Falling Man" - a performance artist who appears around Manhattan - falling from various buildings and bridges, dressed in business attire, then hanging in the pose of one of the men photographed jumping/falling from the North Tower.

From Singles 2009

They came out onto the street, looking back, both towers burning, and soon they heard a high drumming rumble and saw smoke rolling down from the top of one tower, billowing out and down, methodically, floor to floor, and the tower falling, the south tower diving into the smoke, and they were running again.

The story shifted in focus between characters, between time (pre-9/11, 9/11, post 9/11 - and in consequence, my interest and involvement in the story waxed and waned. While I think it is fair to say this is a story of the effect that 9/11 had on people, I must say that I found the end of the book to be most riveting. It is at the end that DeLillo returns to before the beginning and follows Hammad's experience on the plane and Keith's experience in the tower. I listened to those last chapters 3 or 4 or 5 times.

The pious ancestors had pulled their clothes tightly about them before the battle. They were the ones that named the way. How could any death be better?

Every sin of your life is forgiven in the seconds to come.

There is nothing between you and eternal life in the seconds to come.

You are wishing for death and now here it is in the seconds to come.

Photo attribution - Carolyn's brother.

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