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Opening of Falling Man

In the first chapter of Falling Man, as Keith walks away from the carnage of the tower, many of the details he notices, or at least the ones he remembers, are the ones that are not specific to the unfolding event. He walks past a “Breakfast Special sign”, presumably in the window of a diner he has walked past hundreds of times before. He draws our attention to the tai chi group in the park. He sees the woman wearing caution tape standing by her shopping cart. He reads “Electrical Contractor, Long Island City” off of the truck that picks him up. It could be that, faced with the trauma of what is happening, Keith consciously or unconsciously seeks out familiar objects. Alternately, this section could be stream of consciousness instead of Keith’s articulated memory, in which case Keith’s brain might have briefly recorded everything he sensed and not stored all of it. Either way, it effectively allows DeLillo to establish place. Even before he mentions Canal Street, the second tower falling, or the Long Island City truck, we can believe that this is New York City.

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