Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Falling down but getting back up again

I've just finished reading Don DeLillo's "Falling Man." Actually, I finished it two nights ago but I find myself thinking about it in odd moments. The beauty of "Falling Man," I think, is that it takes a world-changing event and scales it down to the effect on two people.

Like most of us, I witnessed 9/11 on TV. I still find it difficult to talk about. And if it affected me so deeply, how much more could those who lived through it, who witnessed it, who lost loved ones to it be suffering? Here is DeLillo's brilliance as a novelist: he allowed himself to imagine the horror of that day for those trapped in the buildings and wrote about it in non-emotive language that is all the more moving for its simplicity. He didn't make any political statements for this event didn't affect politicians; it affected people. The most moving part of the book for me is the last portion. I don't want to give too much away in case others want to read it. I will say that it is well worth reading. It doesn't contain any hokey patriotism, which I feared it would. It's not about America the Great and Beautiful. It's about how ordinary lives are changed by extraordinary events.

It's been six years since I last visited NYC, a mere two weeks before the planes flew into the Twin Towers. My children and I stood on the Jersey side while my husband had a meeting with a colleague. We ate hotdogs and I pointed out the Twin Towers and other landmarks to them. I told them about when their father and I met 10 years before in South Street Seaport. Later, we ate Italian food in the Bronx and my children fell asleep on my lap. Two weeks later I sat in my living room in tears as I watched this loud, brash, cocky city brought to its knees. My son, only 5 years old, laughed. I asked him why he was laughing. "I've never seen a woman cry before," he answered.

Much has happened in our world since then. A war that had to be started. Another started to take attention away from the fact that the first one was being lost. More bombings, more people dying, more people hurt. More people scared. Useless and annoying security checks. And who is winning the War on Terror? I think the terrorists are, for whenever and wherever there is terror, they have achieved their objective. Far better to carry on as before, to live ordinary lives as ordinarily as possible.

When looking for a photo of the Twin Towers as they were, I came across this website: Very interesting. Very disturbing.


Toni. said...

LOL! I love your "About Me." Found you via Shauna's blog, btw.

I too find it difficult to talk about 9/11. My dh works for an airline whose planes were involved and I too worked in that industry for 13 years. Airline employees are heavily emotionally impacted any time a crash occurs; a bit like when a medical team loses a patient after trying to save their life. But 9/11, its impact was far beyond that. I was so glad that day that my dd was too young to understand it. And yet I knew it was only a matter of time before she learned how evil hearted people can be.

The book sounds good. I'll have to take a look-see the next time I'm at B&N.

marymaryquitecontrary said...

You are correct when you say that the terrorists seem to win. I live in a country that has suffered so much by the hands of terrorists;look at the government we have now?

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Welcome, Toni. My children, too, didn't understand about the evil in this world when 9/11 happened. They are beginning to now.

Mary, your people do know firsthand about terrorism. Hard to fathom how the people in charge now got there.

lady macleod said...

Very well said my dear, very touching and heartfelt. I'm sure the book is good but I found YOUR personal account very poignant. Thank you for sharing with us.

Queen Vixen said...

Its really wierd to see the towers as they were. I was at work when it happened. The boss had a tv - we all stood round his desk and looked in horror at what happened. We all thought it was an elaborate hoax at first - unbelievable. There was a sense of foreboding as if the dark storm was brewing. I remember being afraid - guess I still am.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Thank you, Lady M. I had almost forgotten about that day because it was dwarfed by what has happened since.

Queen V., they want us to be afraid. Remember, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." I truly believe decency will in the end win. But I don't know when that end will be.

DJ Kirkby said...

You are right that site is disturbing, but that photo of the twin towers is just so beautiful! I really liked what you said about terroists having achieved their objective wherever there is terror, they have won. Very true but I had not thought about it like that.

Stay at home dad said...

Interesting comments wakeup..

DeLillo is an extraordinary writer. The American underbelly of Americana, Mao II's prefiguring of the terror threat, the scope and splintering of America in Underworld, with the emblematic twin towers on its cover. I am a huge fan.

Omega Mum said...

It was moving but I loved your son's laughter, too. Long live that age when you just say it, whatever it is, 'cos it's on your mind......

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

DJ, I chose this photo for that reason. Let us remember those buildings in their glory.

SAHD, I've tried reading DeLillo in the past but couldn't get into the books. This one is superb.

OM, I agree. Of course, he was too young to fathom what was going on. But he still does say what he thinks. He's quite a sage for an 11-year-old.