14 October 2010
77. Falling Man
I did this one on audio because I went on a trip recently. I figured I would have time to listen while flying half way around the world. That didn't happen. I left it in the car. So, it took longer than I expected because I listened to it on my work commute instead.
I chose this book because I have wanted to read Don DeLillo's Underworld for quite a while. It sits on the shelf taunting me. It is a threateningly thick novel. I will get to it some day. In the mean time I figured I would get a taste for the author's style by listening to this one.
Falling Man is centered around a few every day folks living in New York City. The events of the book are centered around the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the effects that experience had on thier lives.
Their are different perspectives throughout the book and the writer jumps from one narrator to another quite often. There is a man who was in the tower, a woman who was in the tower and shares his experience, and his estranged wife and child who deal with it as outsiders trying to understand. There are people that are just friends and acquaintences and then there are random strangers with interjections into conversations.
There is also a perspective from the terrorists themselves going through flight school and wondering when the CIA will knock on their door to arrest them.
All of it comes back to what happened that day and how it is defining who they are today.
The Falling Man? He is a performer who, following the attack, puts on a harness and jumps from bridges and buildings. He poses his body in the way of one of the men who actually jumped from the World Trade Center and was caught on film. Arms back along his body, one leg bent. When it was described I recalled the photograph.
The writing was excellent. I fully understood the characters motivations for the actions they were taking. I understood the mood of each scene as if I was there. DeLillo is very good at doing that.
The only thing I didn't like was the dark subject matter. It brought back a lot of memories. It personalized those memories. It took 2800 some odd deaths and made the reader realize that each of them was an actual human being that interacted with the world. Each of them affected others in much the same way the people in this book did. That was very sad and depressing at times.
Something else that struck me was how everyone that was in the towers during the attack had a common theme in their lives. Not the real people, I mean the characters in this book. It seemed like each of them lost a zest for living. There was no reason for doing anything any more. Go to work? Maybe. What difference does it make? Why not just go to Vegas and play poker for weeks on end? What difference does it make? That was maybe the saddest thing of all. That the people no longer had any spark. They all seemed to be dead, yet still going through the motions of life. I would hate to live like that.