§ion=&combo2=&text1=&text2=&SocNetUsername=&SocNetPassword=&authCode=& 7th Decade Thoughts: Falling Man by Don DeLillo

7th Decade Thoughts

Thoughts about books, politics and history (personal and otherwise), pictures I've taken and pictures I've edited.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Falling Man by Don DeLillo

I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. I’ve been reading DeLillo—his longest and best known books—and I must admit I was really looking forward to this one but was sort of disappointed. It’s not bad—the writing is fine as usual, but it all seems sort of obvious. A man escapes from the North Tower with an injury to his wrist and a stranger’s briefcase. He knows he lives too close to go home and suddenly finds himself on his estranged wife’s doorstep. There’s a reconciliation of sorts—few words and no decisions—and family life resumes. His son reports on his friends’ concern about “Bill Lawton” returning and refuses to believe that the towers have fallen.

Keith—that’s the man’s name—returns the briefcase, feels a connection with the woman who owned it. They meet because they understand each other as no one who didn’t survive the towers can. They start a brief affair. Liane, Keith’s wife works with a group of Alzheimer’s patients who write journals of their experiences as a way of keeping in touch with themselves. She rails against an editor who assumes she’s too “involved” to edit a book about terror. She realizes she’s more dependent on her group of Alzheimer’s writers than they on her. She realizes her mother’s lover, whose real name her mother never even knew, was a terrorist in Germany in his youth, a “white terrorist, our terrorist” she muses. There are bits about a real terrorist, one who has a girl in Hamburg, eats too much and gains weight, waffles about his decision to fly on one of the planes. There’s the “falling man” performance artists who falls from high places all over town, drawing large crowds and then one day falls to his death.

Keith leaves his family again shortly after meeting one member of the weekly poker game who did survive, following him on the professional poker circuit—though they rarely actually met on the tour. His life becomes flights, airports, hotel rooms, artificial atmospheres like casinos. He’s not happy but he’s not miserable either. He’s sort of drugged by an experience that hasn’t gone away yet.

I’ll read it again I’m sure. For DeLillo it’s short. I think my conclusion is that the writer’s who’ve chosen to take on 9/11 obliquely have done better. Clearly DeLillo doesn’t know what’s going to happen to Keith—there’s not been enough time.


Post a Comment

<< Home