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Falling man
DeLillo, Don
Adult Fiction DELILLO

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From Publishers' Weekly:

When DeLillo's novel Players was published in 1977, one of the main characters, Pammy, worked in the newly built World Trade Center. She felt that "the towers didn't seem permanent. They remained concepts, no less transient for all their bulk than some routine distortion of light." DeLillo's new novel begins 24 years later, with Keith Neudecker standing in a New York City street covered with dust, glass shards and blood, holding somebody else's briefcase, while that intimation of the building's mortality is realized in a sickening roar behind him. On that day, Keith, one half of a classic DeLillo well-educated married couple, returns to Lianne, from whom he'd separated, and to their young son, Justin. Keith and Lianne know it is Keith's Lazarus moment, although DeLillo reserves the bravura sequence that describes Keith's escape from the first tower--as well as the last moments of one of the hijackers, Hammad--until the end of the novel. Reconciliation for Keith and Lianne occurs in a sort of stunned unconsciousness; the two hardly engage in the teasing, ludic interchanges common to couples in other DeLillo novels. Lianne goes through a paranoid period of rage against everything Mideastern; Keith is drawn to another survivor. Lianne's mother, Nina, roils her 20-year affair with Martin, a German leftist; Keith unhooks from his law practice to become a professional poker player. Justin participates in a child's game involving binoculars, plane spotting and waiting for a man named "Bill Lawton." DeLillo's last novel, Cosmopolis, was a disappointment, all attitude (DeLillo is always a brilliant stager of attitude) and no heart. This novel is a return to DeLillo's best work. No other writer could encompass 9/11 quite like DeLillo does here, down to the interludes following Hammad as he listens to a man who "was very genius"--Mohammed Atta. The writing has the intricacy and purpose of a wiring diagram. The mores of the after-the-event are represented with no cuteness--save, perhaps, the falling man performance artist. It is as if Players, The Names, Libra, White Noise, Underworld--with their toxic events, secret histories, moral panics--converge, in that day's narrative of systematic vulnerability, scatter and tentative regrouping. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

On 9/11, a man working in the towers, Keith, survives and returns to his estranged wife, Lianne, and young son Justin. Keith self-medicates with poker, flying between casinos and home; Lianne becomes obsessed with Alzheimer's and the support group she leads for sufferers. This novel is divided into three sections, each named for a character who is unidentified until the end of the section and serves primarily as a thematic element: "Bill Lawton" is Justin's distorted version of Bin Laden, for whom he searches the sky with binoculars; "Ernst Hechinger" is the real name of Lianne's mother's lover (now known as Martin), a former violent demonstrator against the German Democratic Republic, the extent of his crimes unknown; and "David Janiak" is the Falling Man, a controversial performance artist who falls from heights in a suit and a harness. Each section ends with a short chapter on the terrorists; strangely brief, they serve well to humanize the perpetrators without delving into the territory of judgment, sympathy, or demonization. Acclaimed novelist DeLillo (Underworld; White Noise) offers the definitive creative text on the 9/11 world in a time when most novels are addressing the post-9/11 world. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/07.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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