Aug 27, 08
Read in August, 2008
Falling Man is my first encounter with Don DeLillo. This is almost unbelievable because I have been an avid reader all my life and I worked as a librarian for 14 years. DeLillo has been placed in the pantheon of Great Writers of Our Lifetime. His reputation precedes him. Perhaps this is why Falling Man did not turn out to be the read I was expecting.
But how does one address 9/11 in fiction a mere 7 years after the fact? Can we even begin to sift through the emotions of the event and catalog them in a novel? Surely, as a society, we need to try. 9/11 is part of our collective experience...yet outside the realm of personal experience for all but the people who were in Manhatten that day...the living and the dead.
It felt like DeLillo kept the characters at arms length...as if nobody should presume to know what it is to have experienced that morning first-hand. I felt the emotion in the writing when DeLillo was not discussing the central characters. When I tried to see through the eyes of the people at the nexus of the story, I felt numb. This may have been intentional.
There were moments where I knew I was in the hands of an accomplished writer, worthy of the praise that has been heaped upon him. But I cannot say that the book resonated with me.
I will read more of DeLillo's work. His emotionally spare and not altogether likeable characters may ring true in a narrative that lends itself more to a post-modernist take on life as it is, rather than life as we may wish it is. Although I would never wish to despoil the tragedy of September 11, 2001 with a Frank Capra-esque cast of saintly do-gooders--when hell wreaks itself on earth, it takes us all in equal measure-- I needed just a little more to hang onto with this book. I suspect that this is my weakness rather than Mr. DeLillo's.