Q&A with Paul A. Toth discussion

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Toth | 5 comments Mod
No rules: Ask absolutely anything about Airplane Novel and me, and I shall answer.

message 2: by Thomas J. (new)

Thomas J. Hubschman (didymos) | 2 comments Why a book about 9/11? Is it an idea that has been developing for some time? What do you think of the other attempts to write works of fiction about that event? It must have given you some pause, I imagine: how to do so without being exploitative, e.g.

message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul Toth | 5 comments Mod
Hi Thomas:

If there was a delay in this response, I apologize.

The book was completed several years ago. It was never intended to exploit the 9/11 ten-year anniversary, much less the event. In terms of the anniversary, the book simply took a long time to reach publication, and by the time a release date was being chosen, the only decision was whether to make it available before or after anniversary. So that was a rather obvious choice and one mainly determined by the publisher's new release schedule.

I read DeLillo's novel. I was disappointed, having expected the "White Noise" of 9/11 novels. For kicks and nothing more, I began to bat around ways in which such an overwhelming event could be framed in a manner that would remove it from all normal literary contexts. None of the mainstream literary approaches would work, in my estimation.

One day, I asked myself: "What if one of the towers served as narrator?" An "Aha!" moment, but I wasn't sold on writing such a book. In fact, I dismissed the idea, but it stuck with me. For one, it fell in line with the influence of cubist painters on my work. And so gradually I decided that I would write the novel, and that this time cubism would not be merely one of my many influences but a conscious and central force inherent to the novel's structure and as-yet unknown method of portraying events as "seen" by a building. Therefore, a great deal of my research involved cubism, as well as the other research one would expect for such a book.

So, yes, the idea gave me great pause. At first, I felt a 9/11 novel almost required a "name author." In fact, frankly, I believe if this book had DeLillo's name on the cover, it would be a bestseller. Such is life.

Lastly, I do not in any way see it as exploitative. My motivation is readership, though like most writers, I can always use money. More importantly, in my view, this novel is the least exploitative of any novel about 9/11 because the use of a building as narrator allows a certain mercilessness inappropriate to a human narrator yet altogether appropriate to the event itself. I find novels seeking to deliver "closure" and "redemption" to 9/11 the most exploitative, as rather than being "closed," 9/11 needs to be unleashed from the media zoo that captured and ultimately reduced its impact. Airplane Novel returns 9/11 to the future, just as wreckage from the building is now contained in standing Manhattan structures. No event ends or can ever be plundered of possibility, and yet most of us have the desire to believe so. This novel rejects that instinct. Readers will not get what they expect from a 9/11 novel, but I hope and believe they will get much more.


Paul A. Toth

message 4: by Thomas J. (new)

Thomas J. Hubschman (didymos) | 2 comments Interesting, Paul. Unique literary device, at least in my experience. I look forward to reading it. Glad to see it's on Kindle.


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Toth | 5 comments Mod
I look forward to your thoughts, Thomas. Please pass them along when the time comes.

Your friend,


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