9/11: The falling man

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fallingmanI’ve just finished Don DeLillo’s “Falling Man”, an alternately moving and bleak description of relationships after the attacks on the Twin Towers, focussing on a troubled marriage. When Lianne sees her estranged husband Keith, a survivor of Tower 1, come in the door covered in blood and helps him clean up, she realizes that most of the blood on him is from other people. The crisis brings the two of them together again briefly. As victims, they are busy healing and helping and focussing on each other. But then, as the story unfolds, the marriage falls apart again as they get on with their lives. A parallel storyline focusses on the making of one of the terrorists, from his first flirt with the extremists to his death in flames. He, too, is trying to find his – troubled – way. DeLillo’s message, in simple terms, seems to be that we cannot escape our group identity in our attempt to give our lives value. We work with what we have. That’s what makes us all a part of humanity. A very liberal message, one of the reasons New York is home to people from all over the world. Listen to DeLillo read a passage from his novel:

“The falling man” documentary is about the famous photo and the “jumpers”. Produced and directed by Henry Singer, shown on Channel 4. Time: 1:11:26. Download link.


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