Excellent, tight, concise work by DeLillo portraying the horror of 9/11, before and after and years after. Only DeLillo has the ability to dance around the scene, leaving most things untold, hinting and describing and not playing on our sympathy bone too much. His story follows Keith, who survives the attack on Tower 1 and who picks up a stray briefcase in the mass exodus down the stairwell with the rest of the survivors. His brain is essentially cracked by the event. He immediately makes his way over to his estranged wife’s apartment, where he remains. The briefcase belongs to a woman who also survives– and Keith starts a brief and intense affair with her as they reminisce about those moments in the tower. As she describes her experience, he searches the crowd for a glimpse of himself. They both see the maintenance man with a crowbar.
The title comes from the performance artist, the Falling Man, who begins falling with safety harness above busy intersections, getting everyone to quietly watch and comment. He cocks his body at an angle to denote that he is not simply falling, but something more.
We also see Keith’s wife (Lianne)’s mom and her 20 year affair with the German under an assumed name. Keith’s son Justin scans the skies for more planes.
The story also trails the terrorists in training – Atta & his crew in flight school. Poignant scenes where Hammad, cleanshaven and flirting with the cashier, tries to think up something funny to say. In the end, we all simply want to be liked.
So yes yes yes I would recommend it.