Saturday, October 27, 2007

Falling Man

Title: Falling Man
Author: Don DeLillo
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 246
Edition: Hardcover

9/11. The Twin Towers are burning...And then, as the world watched over, horror-struck, the towers came tumbling down... south tower first..then the north..."He heard the sound of the second fall, or felt it in the trembling air, the north tower coming down, a soft awe of voices in the distance." Enormous plume of smoke rapidly engulfed the entire region. "It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night".

Keith, a 39 year-old lawyer, who worked in the Twin Towers, emerged out of the rubble, glass shards jutting out of his skin, ashes coated all over. He appeared at the doorsteps of Lianne, his estranged wife, in a stupor. He carried a briefcase that was not his. It was handed down when he was waiting on the staircase, to escape the burning towers. He forgot to pass it on and now carried it with him. Lianne, a freelance editor, lived with her son Justin, a 7-year-old. Lianne wanted to reconcile their differences, after nearly a year of seperation. But, Keith, a philanderer, proved her wrong once again. When Keith seeks the owner of the briefcase, Florence, he was attracted by her. His affair with Florence was short-lived, however. His interests soon turns to gambling and poker games.

Two parallel stories run along the main plot. One is that of Hammad, a hijacker, who trains in the US to carry out his secretive mission. Second is, Falling man himself. Falling man is a performance artist who stages public stunts (wearing a safety harness tied to his suit) in an attempt to evoke dreadful memories of people falling from the burning towers.

The individual sections of the novel are vividly described. The final chapter is definitely worthy of mention. Hammad wrestles with his emotions on the hijacked plane; the plane hits the tower; and it beautifully transitions into Keith catapulted back and forth as the towers swayed due to the impact. The ending was perfect; beautiful. However, the overall plot fails miserably to engage reader's attention. The characters are shallow, and seemingly disconnected from each other. The prose is fragmented, incoherent and frustrating at times. I won't recommend this book to anyone. Very Disappointing!!

My Rating: 2.5/5


Literary Feline said...

That's too bad really. I read an article about upcoming books related to 9/11 quite a while ago and this was one I was considering adding to my wish list. Is it worth reading just for the great ending?

karmic said...

Enjoyed reading your book review. I heard a review of it on NPR. Apparently the disconnect between the characters is used as a deliberate ploy. The reviewer loved the language too.

link here, it is less than 2 mins long.

It is interesting how everyone sees this differently. Before reading your review, I had decided that I did not want to read anymore books related to 9/11, what you said only strengthens that thought.

Lotus Reads said...

hi, Chitts!

I got goosebumps (the nice kind) when I read the first two paragraphs of your review...I wanted to rush to Amazon and place an order for the book...but then I came to your concluding lines...such a pity the plot pulls the book down and that the characters lack substance. Guess I won't be bothering with this book after all.

Thanks for you sharing your thoughts on this book with us.

Happy Reader said...

@Wendy ~ Yes, its disappointing when a book thats much hyped about doesn't quite meet your expectations. Quite honestly, I don't think its worth reading just for the conclusion.
@Sanjay ~ Thanks for the link! You always have a wealth of resources to share with on any subject :) Like you said, there is a plethora of books on the market about 9/11 and unfortunately, 'Falling Man' doesn't shed light on anything new.
@Lotus ~ I don't like novels that are disjointed.. I guess I need the rhythmic flow to keep me enticed. It was quite a frustrating experience and I think I've had my share of 9/11 novels for now.

hellomelissa said...

thanks for reviewing this book... now i don't have to actually read it! it must have been terribly depressing.

Happy Reader said...

@Melissa ~ Disappointing that this novel didn't stand out.. Thanks for stopping by!

Lauren said...

That's a shame. I've had this book on my wishlist since I first saw it in the store. Have you by any chance read "Windows on the World" by Frederic Beigbeder? It's another 9/11 book that fell a little short. Strangely enough, it has 2 parallel story lines as well.

Happy Reader said...

@lauren ~ I haven't read "Windows on the World". Too bad it didn't meet your expectations. No more 9/11 books for me.

Unknown said...

I just finished reading a book which beautifully tied together all the elements of the story for a surprising and satisfying conclusion. This was such a richly described and beautifully woven story. The connection of the family members is wonderfully drawn in Shades of Darkness - Shades of Grace.