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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Falling Man
In 'Falling Man' DeLillo tries to tackle the Big Theme of the 21st century - namely September 11, 2001 - and how it has impacted on the collective psyche. However, there is less of the virtuoso omnipresence of Underworld, for example, but more examination of the attack at a local and intimate level. Terrorism is by no means a new theme for Delillo, who has explored the...
Published on 23 Oct 2007 by Demob Happy

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too close for comfort?
Most people will remember where they were when the news of 9/11 reached them, and for a lot of them, the image of the people jumping from the Towers encapsulate the terror and tragedy of the event.
DeLillo uses art to imitate life inside the novel - the Falling Man of the title is a performance artist that pops up all over New York in the months after 9/11 in an...
Published on 5 July 2010 by trendytracey


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too close for comfort?, 5 July 2010
This review is from: Falling Man: A Novel (Paperback)
Most people will remember where they were when the news of 9/11 reached them, and for a lot of them, the image of the people jumping from the Towers encapsulate the terror and tragedy of the event.
DeLillo uses art to imitate life inside the novel - the Falling Man of the title is a performance artist that pops up all over New York in the months after 9/11 in an upside down guise that recalls the real victims.
However, the book doesn't concentrate on this man as the main character, it focuses on Keith and Florence - who were in the tower when it was struck but worked for different companies, and their futile attempt to make sense of things by forming a strained relationship. Also Lianne and Justin, Keith's long-suffering wife and son, and a host of secondary characters appear to be coping with the event in various ways.
Any book that tackles a world terrorist attack is a big project, and I think that it's still too fresh (especially to an American citizen) to try and lay out generalised coping strategies. It seems that DeLillo was trying to make the family in Falling Man the embodiment of the New Yorker in the same way that Steinbeck made the Joads the very essence of the Okie during the Depression - and it doesn't quite work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Falling Man, 23 Oct 2007
This review is from: Falling Man (Paperback)
In 'Falling Man' DeLillo tries to tackle the Big Theme of the 21st century - namely September 11, 2001 - and how it has impacted on the collective psyche. However, there is less of the virtuoso omnipresence of Underworld, for example, but more examination of the attack at a local and intimate level. Terrorism is by no means a new theme for Delillo, who has explored the ways in which political violence shapes society in many of his books. Here he also focuses on another traditional preoccupation, the way that mass media saturates the visual symbolism of such events until its original meaning becomes disjointed.

As with other DeLillo novels, the characters' lives are rendered dispiritingly unsympathetic by his cynical attitude towards modern (i.e, consumer) society. The dehumanisation and creeping inertia of the protagonists, for example, makes a deadening reading experience. Communication in DeLillo's novels is often so stunted and inarticulate as to seem emotionally retarded. This is probably the point, but it can also have the affect of feeling contrived and overstylised. DeLillo tells one strand of narrative from the perspective of one of the plane hijackers, which doesn't add an enormous amount to our understanding of the attack but reads credibly enough.

DeLillo is one of the great writers of modern American fiction, and isolated passages leave you breathless with their observational insight, mood and originality. But sometimes you wish that DeLillo had more empathy for his characters, as they seem so vacuous as to make reading his novels a distinctly cold experience. Nevertheless, DeLillo's unusual perspective is arguably much more satisfying to read than some of the more prosaic interpretations of September 11th already written and no doubt yet to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave and important, 1 Aug 2007
By 
G. L. Haggett "glynlhaggett" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Falling Man (Hardcover)
There is a problem with novels which attempt to address burningly contemporary issues, since they necessarily overlay the reader's existing perception with the author's perspective.

This book might easily have run the risk of accusations of exploitation, but, while DeLillo does indeed take us into the aeroplanes and Twin Towers on 9/11, he manages to tread the fine line between drama and sensationalism with a spare style undershot with great sensitivity.

At times, DeLillo seems to be working out his own response to the events; I suspect that will be an ongoing process, both for him and for those of us who watched the events unfolding at one remove, on our TV screens.

DeLillo's characters search for meaning in a world whose values have been brought into question, distracting themselves from brute reality with travel, performance art, gambling, affairs and the written word. Thankfully, however, the characterisation is neither one-sided nor one-dimensional. DeLillo's hijacker is not an ogre; instead, he is someone with the same fears as others, motivated by his beliefs, as so many others are.

Time will tell us just how important this novel is; for the moment, however, it is a very important contribution to the ongoing debate.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant return to form for an American master, 10 May 2007
By 
Sam J. Ruddock (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Falling Man (Hardcover)
`Falling Man' opens amidst the chaos of 9/11 as Keith Neudecker stumbles dumbstruck away from the Twin Towers. He is in a daze, can barely comprehend that anything is out of the usual. He makes his way to his ex-wife's house, to a life he knew before any of this happened. The novel follows Keith and the people around him as they struggle to understand an event that is beyond anyone's power of comprehension.

Keith's wife, Lianne, is reeling from the death of her father almost twenty years before. Now she runs writing sessions for those with dementia and worries that her own mind is fading. Their child, Justin, searches the sky with binoculars for Bill Lawton (Bin Laden) who speaks in a monosyllabic language and is certain to return. Lianne's mother and her art dealing lover Martin argue over the nature of God and jihad. Keith himself can only begin to remember that crazy morning by meeting with a woman who was there as well.

All the while a street performer named Falling Man is performing stunts across New York, leaping from heights and hanging frozen in the air, daring people to remember.

This is the world Don Delillo presents, a world which started long before 9/11 but whose consciousness was created in that fateful morning. If anyone should write a book about this subject then this is the man. With `White Noise' he expertly tackled the Cold War fear of nuclear fallout and death and now here he is tackling the modern paranoia: terrorism. He is a master of plotting the psyche of terror and this is every bit as good as `White Noise'. Falling Man is exactly what you wish for in a book, intelligent, witty and intensely poignant. Take this dialogue, could anyone else delineate that disbelief better?

"It still looks like an accident, the first one. Even from this distance, way outside the thing, how many days later, I'm standing here thinking it's an accident."

"Because it has to be."

"It has to be," he said.

"The way the camera sort of shows surprise."

"But only the first one."

"Only the first," she said.

"The second plane, by the time the second plane appears," he said, "we're all a little older and wiser."

`Falling Man' is caught in the crossfire between remembering and forgetting, it is a hazy, snapshot view of the lives that 9/11 shaped. It is written in a distorted, confused manner, with shifts in character and plot and time. This makes it difficult to follow, hard to understand, but then, nothing about the subject is easy to understand. There are those with dementia who can't help forgetting and the rest of the people who can't help remembering, those stumbling out of the grey dust of 9/11 and those who are inevitably falling into the grey mist of memory loss.

This is the mirage into which Delillo watches everything merge into uncertainty. The Twin Towers emerge from a still life painting, Keith struggles to tell what is live action and what is a replay in the sport on TV, religious belief leads to disbelief and vice versa, and Keith enters the world of professional Poker playing, desperate to recreate the Friday night game he enjoyed with friends before all of this happened.

You must read this book. Don Delillo has mapped the psychological fallout of 9/11 more superbly than I imagined possible.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflects our post 9/11 world perfectly, 9 Jun 2007
By 
This review is from: Falling Man (Hardcover)
Most reviews of this novel I have seen are quite negative, many reviewers repeating the maxim that it's too early for any writer to truly deal with 9/11. I think in years to come, people will realise how perfect this novel is. We start and end with the main character on the actaul day, fighting to survive, and in between, we see him and his wife, son and others struggling to make sense of this event and the world they live in. Everything is fragmentary and there is a sense of numbness that I think Delillo creates wonderfully. It is a novel that leaves its mark on you (I am still hanuted by many of the images Delillo creates) and, alongside United 93, we have been given a text that helps the us to begin to unravel this bizarre world we are all living in because of this world-shaking event. Buy it, read it and be moved by the masterly writing of a true American genius!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A NOVEL THAT MERITS ATTENTION, 12 July 2007
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Falling Man (Hardcover)
While there have been millions of words written about 9/11 surely few are as trenchant and poignant a those penned by award winning author Don DeLillo in Falling Man. He presents the small moments, minute observations, which in everyday life would be fleeting but in this case are crucial to the character's state of mind.

Readers are immediately caught by one of the most devastating opening lines in fiction: "It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night." With those few words one is transported back to the shock, the horror of that dreadful day that changed our lives forever.

We see the devastation through the eyes of Keith Neudecker whose office was in the south tower. He emerges dazed, confused, carrying someone else's briefcase. When a helpful truck driver offers a ride he asks to be taken to the apartment of his wife, Lianne. They have been separated for some time and have a young son, Justin.

Lianne seeks to know why Keith has returned to her, while Justin responds to the tragedy by scanning the sky with binoculars - searching for another plane. As time passes Nina, Lianne's mother, reconnects with her lover and Keith finds common ground with another survivor.

Landscaping the emotional terrain of these people is DeLillo at his finest - staccato voices, brief phrases, revealing so much.

Later in the book we are privy to the thoughts of Hammad who "...thinks of the rapture of live explosives pressed to his chest and waist."

Reading Falling Man is almost painful, a reopening of old wounds. Yet DeLillo has so precisely captured the then and now of 9/11 that it merits attention by all.

- Gail Cooke
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Falling Man, 6 July 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Falling Man (Paperback)
This rather unsettling book begins with Keith Neudecker emerging from the confusion and debris of September 11th. Without realising it, he has aquired someone's briefcase along the way and, without making a conscious decision, he heads for the apartment he used to share with his wife and son.

The characters in this novel try to make sense of a changed world. Keith and his wife Lianne's young son scans the skies with binoculars, a performance artist causes outrage and tensions are heightened. When Keith first appears, covered in dust, glass and blood, Lianne's first response is to turn off the television, "protecting him from the news he'd just walked out of."

This is a disjointed read, but it captures the conflicting emotions of that time and the events of that day in a thought provoking way. As Lianne's muses on the past of her mother's lover and Keith feels the loss of his poker buddies, as he returns the briefcase to a woman who shared his experience and a troubled city readjusts, the author confronts feelings of the 'before' and 'after' of events.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Searing, 5 Jun 2007
By 
D. Stephenson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Falling Man (Hardcover)
Whether you are turning the events of 9/11 into money or into art you are open to attack for your use of so many people's pain. DeLillo deflects criticism by the searing way in which he conveys the impact on the lives of his protagonists and by the indirect incorporation into the narrative of a performance artist (the Falling Man of the title)and the angry reaction he provokes. Image upon image and idea upon idea pile-up in a poetically condensed account of the day and its aftermath focussed on an already dysfunctional family group. The result is psychologically powerful and gripping, but a harrowing experience for the reader.

The short sections dealing with one of the hijackers are less convincing: a problem that John Updike also demonstrated in The Terrorist.

For me DeLillo's best since Underworld.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decline and Fall, 4 Aug 2007
By 
Adam Kelly (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Falling Man (Hardcover)
Having read a large quantity of DeLillo's previous work I knew exactly what to expect with this novel. And that is part of the problem.

This is DeLillo doing DeLillo doing 9/11. Like all his novels, it has a searingly good beginning and a profound and suggestive ending, with the body of the terrorist Hammad melding into that of Keith, just as the prose at the finale does. Perhaps our greatest contemporary set-piece writer, these two pieces, both focused on the immediate aftermath of the planes hitting, are among DeLillo's finest. However, in between them what we have is a series of occasionally insightful but often bland observations given to us through characters that are, as usual, no more than cyphers.

Not since Libra has DeLillo written a really good character, one that can give a book a centre from which all the philosophical nuances can be registered as affective and felt. The point is not that characters need be warm and amusing, but that they be real and self-conscious in the way human beings actually are. Lianne, Keith and Justin think and speak in detached and discrete segments that give no sense of people actually involved in the lives they lead. Always at his best when thinking conceptually, DeLillo has at this stage turned everything into a concept, in a way that I, as a human being, find unrecognisable, and that reduces the potential drama to nil.

The great 9/11 novel will be written by someone whose worldview and aesthetic were profoundly formed by what happened to the Twin Towers. Perhaps it is too much to expect an established and older novelist to react in a new and inaugural way to such a new and inaugural event. On this evidence, certainly, DeLillo's best work is behind him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Terse, Quite Compelling Novel On 9/11 From Don DeLillo, 10 Aug 2008
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Falling Man (Hardcover)
For better or for worse, a literary cottage industry has arisen in the aftermath of 9/11. This still recent horrific event - which ought to endure within the American psyche for decades, if not centuries - has become either the subject of several critically acclaimed novels, or a firmly entrenched background to the tales being spun by such gifted writers from Jonathan Safran Foer to William Gibson. Now one of the truly great writers of American fiction, Don DeLillo, has chimed in with "Falling Man"; a novel that is remarkable not only for its relative brevity, but also for delving deeply into the psyche of New Yorkers who witnessed the World Trade Center terrorist attack and are still coping with their psychological trauma years later. Quoting from its dust-jacket blurb, "Falling Man" is indeed a work of fiction that is "cathartic, beautiful and heartbreaking". Without question, it also demonstrates that DeLillo is still a worthy literary artist at the height of his creative powers; a keen observer of human nature in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. His latest novel also proves that DeLillo is an elegant storyteller delving into the lives of ordinary people who remain mentally imprisoned by the searing images and painful memories of that fateful, tragic clear blue September morning not so long ago. Without question, for these very reasons, "Falling Man" is one of the most impressive novels published this year.

DeLillo deftly weaves the narratives of three members of a rather unremarkable New York City family, whose lives remain touched forever by what they witnessed on 9/11/01; a dysfunctional American family which was tearing itself apart at the seams long before that September morning. We meet Keith as he stumbles through the grayish ash blizzard of building debris and human remains, soon after the collapse of the first World Trade Center building to fall, his face splattered by glass fragments and blood, pressing northward on foot towards Canal Street. Years later his estranged wife Lianne remains in a psychotherapy support group, reliving the grim memories of that day, recalling Keith's unexpected arrival at the Upper East Side apartment of herself and their young son Justin, whose hobby is to stare out of apartment windows, searching the skies with a pair of binoculars for more airplanes crashing into tall buildings like the World Trade Center towers. But is it really a hobby, or rather a phobia, brought on by witnessing the terrorist attacks from the window of a young friend's apartment not far from the World Trade Center? DeLillo's literary ambitions are so vast, that he takes us to an Afghanistan Al-Qaeda training camp, and to Germany, allowing his audience to reside inside the mind of one of the 9/11 hijackers, right up to the final fateful moments of the terrorist's life. But this is an excursion that deflects from, not enhances, the powerful narratives he's created for his three main protagonists, and one that remains a rather facile effort in trying to explain the psychological motivation of one of the nineteen Al Qaeda hijackers. It is also an effort that makes this figure sympathetic to the reader, as if his blind adherence to Islamofascism is one worthy of pithy; an effort that others, most notably John Updike, have handled far better.
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Falling Man
Falling Man by Don DeLillo (Paperback - 4 Mar 2011)
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