Published by Pan Macmillan on September 23rd 2011
Genres: Fiction, General
Falling Man begins on September 11, in the smoke and ash of the burning towers. In the days and the years following, we trace the aftermath of this global tremor in the private lives of a few reticulated individuals. Theirs are lives choreographed by loss, by grief and by the enormous force of history. From these intimate portraits, DeLillo shifts to an extrapolated vision: he charts the way the events have reconfigured our emotional landscape, our memory and our perception of the world.
I started Falling Man shortly after the 14th anniversary of 9/11. As a thirty-something American 9/11 was an event that affected me profoundly, perhaps shaped me in ways that I’m still not completely aware of. DeLillo’s Falling Man is brilliant and beautiful. It’s almost less a novel and more long form poetry.
The writing is gorgeous, the main characters are fully fleshed out and relatable. I anticipate a complaint that many readers may have is that there isn’t a whole lot of action. This is true, Falling Man is more of a character study than a plot driven novel, but I find these characters – an estranged husband and wife living in New York City when the towers fall to be fully fleshed out and completely believable and relatable to an extent. The horror, shock, and … to an extent PTSD that they experience in the days, months, and years after 9/11 is something that is familiar to many Americans.
Falling Man is both an everyman novel and a novel about what it means to belong and grieve, what it means to need religion to an extent that it is able to justify the killing of innocents, what it means to harbor unfair stereotypes and how sometimes it is impossible to rid ourselves of these unfair stereotypes.
I guess what I really want to say is that DeLillo is a genius and this slim novel is beautiful and beautifully written. People who need a lot of plot in their lives aren’t going to be a fan of this novel, but I can’t recommend Falling Man highly enough to those of us who love a good character study.
What about you, Reader? Whether you’re an American or international did 9/11 affect you profoundly? Are you a fan of character studies?