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Falling Man  
Cover to the first edition
Cover to the first edition
Author Don DeLillo
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Scribner
Publication date 2007
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 256 (Hardback first edition)
ISBN 1416546022
OCLC Number 76901941
LC Classification PS3554.E4425 F36 2007

Falling Man is the title of Don DeLillo's most recent novel, published May 15, 2007. An excerpt from the novel appeared in short story form as "Still Life" in the April 9, 2007, issue of The New Yorker magazine.

Contents

Plot summary

Falling Man concerns a survivor of the 9/11 attacks and the effect his experiences on that day have on his life thereafter. As the novel opens, Keith Neudecker, a 39-year-old lawyer who works in the World Trade Center, escapes from the building injured slightly and walks to the apartment he previously shared with his son Justin and estranged wife Lianne. After a period of convalescence recuperating from the physical and mental trauma experienced in the attack, Keith resumes his domestic routine with Lianne while at the same time broaching a romantic relationship with a woman named Florence, another survivor, whose briefcase Keith absently took with him from a stairwell upon exiting the tower. Lianne meanwhile grows frustrated with a neighbor in her building who loudly plays middle-eastern sounding music, witnesses the dissolution of a writing group she ran for Alzheimer's patients, and spends time with her elderly intellectual mother Nina and her boyfriend Martin (an art dealer who may or may not have been involved with a Baader-Meinhof-like terrorist group in Germany in the 1960s). In the second half of the novel, Keith eventually abdicates his partially-resumed domestic life and begins touring the world playing in professional poker tournaments full-time, recalling his weekly poker nights with co-workers, one of whose deaths he witnessed on 9/11.

Throughout the book, Lianne sees a performance artist dubbed "Falling Man" in various parts of the city. Wearing business attire, he suspends himself upside-down with rope and a harness in the pose of the man in the famous photograph of the same name by Richard Drew.

Themes and criticism

The novel explores themes central to many of DeLillo's previous works including the symbolic nature of terrorist violence and its accomplice, the mass media. The notion that "all plots tend to move deathward", elucidated first in White Noise [1] but a ubiquitous theme in DeLillo's novels, pervades the disjointed narrative. The theme of individual reinvention (notably Hammad's and Keith's) or the impossibility of it and the submission of individuals to group identity is explored extensively.

The book was received to wide critical praise and many consider it, apart from his magnum opus Underworld, DeLillo's finest novel. However, Michiko Kakutani writing for the New York Times considered it a disappointment, saying that although "flashes of Mr. DeLillo’s extraordinary gifts for language can be found in his depiction of the surreal events Keith witnessed on 9/11 . . . the remainder of the novel feels tired and brittle."[2]

Footnotes

  1. ^ White Noise, p.26
  2. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2007-05-09). "A Man, A Woman, and a Day of Terror". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/books/09kaku.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1. Retrieved 2007-05-15.  

See also

External links

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