The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Falling Man: a nightmare retold

On a September morning ten years ago our world caught on fire.

The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 shook America to its core and things would never be the same.

For the past 10 years novelists and poets have written about the events of that morning.

In his 2007 novel “Falling Man,” Don Delillo asks “what now?”

After such a tragic event, how do people return to “normal?” Can we ever be who we once were?

The novel follows Keith Neudecker. Keith is a lawyer in one of the towers when the planes hit. He escapes the wreckage and makes his way to the home he once shared with his estranged wife Liane and their young son, Justin.

The narrative follows this small family as they try to reconcile, forgive and bring their lives back to some kind of order.

The novel is not just concerned with the small family.

Throughout the book there are small sections that focus on the life of one of the terrorists.

These parts trace the attackers from Germany to the Hudson corridor. These moments give a look into the minds and actions of the terrorists before the attack.

Delillo’s descriptions, especially those of the attack itself, are incredible. He knows how to paint a picture with words and the dreamlike quality of the story is amplified by his descriptions.

The book reads like a partially remembered dream. A nightmare retold like an attempt to ensure that the events only happened in the sleeper’s mind. Memory is mixed with the present as the characters try to come to terms with what happened. Nightmarish descriptions are the only way to describe the events of that day, and the novelist expertly weaves the real and the surreal.

The dialogue is predominantly unemotional, back and forths that denote an overall sense of cold numbness. These conversations make the book drag in some places and they can be hard to follow.

However, they also help emphasize the book’s atmosphere of life in turmoil. They make the characters that are speaking seem detached and unsure of what their words really mean.

The dialogue and descriptive imagery make this novel unique. This book invites the reader into the nightmare of that day so long ago.

Delillo’s “Falling Man” is one of many novels about Sept. 11. Another interesting novel about the attacks is Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a book about the time after Sept. 11 from the perspective of a young boy whose father died in the attacks.

That morning in September so long ago has been seared into the American literary landscape and will remain part of it for centuries to come.

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