Sunday, October 19, 2008

Silver Crossing Blue

“The Falling Man” is a post-9/11 novel by Don Delillo, the accomplished American novelist. The Falling Man, originally, is the title of the famous photograph taken by Richard Drew at 9:41 on Sep 11, 2001. The picture, over the years, has become the emblem of the horrors of 9/11 and consequently has inspired several artists.

Don Delillo’s novel, “The Falling Man” does not directly deal with its title. In fact the novel is the story of a number of people, including one of the terrorists, two of the survivors who used to work in the Towers, one survivor’s wife, and a performance artist who plays the Falling Man in different spots in New York in order to shock people.

The focus of “The Falling Man”, however, is on two major characters: Keith, a survivor, and his wife Lianne. Keith is a pathetic and alienated man who escapes the falling Towers and seeing his apartment destroyed, he goes back to his estranged wife, Lianne. Keith’s life, following the attacks, is never like the life before. He leaves his job and starts touring different casinos, playing cards and gambling, putting his life in risk, while having an affair with another survivor, a woman called Florence. Keith, thus, is the real falling man of the novel. Lianne on the other hand, is trying to gradually adapt to the life without the Towers and all, trying to get used to the new life the way it was “before the planes appeared that day, silver crossing blue.”

Searching for a good post-9/11 novel, I found “The Falling Man” as the best yet-to-be written. However after reading it and surfing about other works written on the subject, I found out that the perfect 9/11 work has not been produced yet. As New York Times review points out, Don Delillo’s “The Falling Man” does not deeply depict one true victim, one which a real survivor reading the novel can identify with. Keith is a falling man indeed, but just an ordinary loser we see every day. The character of Keith does not show the immense alienation; one which a devastating tragedy like 9/11 can produce.


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