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Excerpt from Falling Man

    In his novel Falling Man, Don Dellilo tries to give us more than a realistic account of 9/11 and its aftermath.

    A movie or a documentary would be much more efficient in recreating the external violence of the event.  Even if the beginning and the end are conveying the terror of the attacks, the book focuses mostly on what is happening beyond what can be seen. The narrative focuses on the psychological consequences of 9/11. Indeed the writer explores the minds of the victims embodied in Keith and Lianne, and makes us fathom their internal wounds.

   Here is the great power of writing to reproduce the frantic chaos of the internal monologues, our constant struggle to examine ourselves, trying to give shape to our lives. Here is the circularity of the internal thinking, obsessive and overwhelming. It is like vertigo, a phenomenon of groundlessness and permanent fall.

  I have chosen an excerpt that illustrates in my opinion, Keith ‘s internal quest for a better understanding of his life and for the state of being. It is a moment of hindsight and sublime contemplation. He is in the desert, reflecting on his lifestyle and scanning the radiance of the sprawl, which hypnotized him.

” He rented a car and took a drive in the desert, starting back after dark and then climbing a rise and leveling out. It took him a moment to understand what he was looking at, many miles ahead, the city floating on the night, and a feverish sprawl of light so quick and inexplicable it seemed a kind of delirium. He wondered why he’d never thought of himself in the middle of such a thing, living there more or less. He lived in rooms, that’s why. He lived and worked n this room and that. He moved only marginally, room to room. He took a taxi to and from the downtown street where is hotel was located, a place without floor mosaics and heated towel racks, and he hadn’t known until now, looking at that vast band of trembling desert neon, how strange a life he was living. But only from here, out away from it. In the thing itself, down close, in the tight eyes around the table, there was nothing that was not normal.” (p. 226)


2 Responses to “Excerpt from Falling Man”

  1. joerger15 says:


    I too chose an excerpt that dealt with how Keith is trying to find purpose in his life. I find it interesting that the book is so spread out in its focus. It does not dwell on the fact that 9/11 happened or that Keith does not feel as if his life has meaning, instead it only skims the surface of these ideas i’m assuming, for the reader to think more into it.
    I also think that Delillo did a good job in describing the time of chaos. He created a visual that although film could replicate and make more vivid, is still unique to writing because it slows time down and allows the reader to hear the individual thoughts and rational of the characters in the situation, something that I think is lost in many films.

  2. Olivia says:

    I appreciate your allusion here to the fact that it is not just DeLillo’s Falling Man characters who move in circles concerning the growth of their own minds and emotions, but human beings in general who face this difficulty with progress. It was easy for me to become frustrated with how lost and stunted the main characters were; I think it is important to realize that many human beings exhibit the same behavior all the time.