Sunday, June 6, 2010

#16 Falling Man

This was a quick read, but also hard to read in places. Falling Man by Don DeLillo follows a survivor of 9/11. It begins with Keith walking away from the World Trade Center covered in ash and blood. In the aftermath of the disaster, he moves back in with his wife and son, whom he had been separated from at the time of the attack.
Falling Man
There are parts of the book, when the characters are recounting their experiences of the day, trying to get out of the tower, that are downright haunting. Some were very difficult to read, so overly detailed in places so that I felt like I was there. The book left me with a bit of a heavy heart, though being a book about 9/11, it wasn't as thought I was expecting a feel-good read.

I just finished the book a few minutes ago, and I'm not sure yet if I liked the book as a whole. It could be that I still need to absorb it, let it sink in or whatnot, but I'm on the fence. I liked parts and I hated parts.

The book is narrated in the third person and follows several people. Sometimes the transition from one character to the next was so abrupt that I found myself getting confused as to who it was referring to. One minute we're with Keith, then a few paragraphs later we're with his wife or someone else, often with little warning. It would take me a few lines to realize we were suddenly in a different place or time.

The dialog was also bit awkward in places and almost hard to follow, everyone seemed to speak abruptly and only one sentence at a time. Though these are characters in turmoil and Lord knows I wouldn't be too chatty if I went through something like that. It's just that most of the conversations seemed like they were on a bad first date; question, quick answer, one line comment, rinse and repeat. People just don't talk like that on a normal basis.

What I did like about the book was that these were real people trying to make sense of the tragedy and dealing with the aftermath. Keith's young son begins watching the skies for more planes, his wife, Lianne, lashes out at a middle eastern neighbor and doesn't seem to understand why. These are not heroes such as a firefighter or policeman. These are just normal and flawed people adjusting to life 'after the planes', as they put it.

In the end, I think I liked the overall story behind the book but had a problem with the execution of that story. The rapidly changing POV's tended to pull me out of the story as I had to reread passages to figure out what was going on. I do think I would still recommend it to other though. The good far outweighed the bad in my eyes. Just be prepared for a few gut-wrenching moments.


Brenna said...

Maybe DeLillo meant to make it confusing and disjointed because the day itself was just that.

Just a thought... I haven't read the book :) I did however read "White Noise" and loved it.

Reading Rachel said...

That's an excellent thought. I can't believe that didn't even cross my mind.

When I think back on that day, it's true that what I most remember is the confusion,fear and uncertainty, and I was thousands of miles away.

So in thinking of the book in that same context, it does all seem to fit better. Thanks for offering that observation.

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Reading Rachel said...

Thank you for your kind words. I am continually in awe that anyone wants to hear what I have to say. I'm continually of the belief that anyone who actually reads this blog was paid to do so by my mother.

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