Falling Man is a magnificent, essential novel about the event that defines turn-of-the-century America. It begins in the smoke and ash of the burning towers and traces the aftermath of this global tremor in the intimate lives of a few people.
First there is Keith, walking out of the rubble into a life that he¹d always imagined belonged to everyone but him. Then Lianne, his estranged wife, memory-haunted, trying to reconcile two versions of the same shadowy man. And their small son Justin, standing at the window, scanning the sky for more planes. These are lives choreographed by loss, grief and the enormous force of history.
Brave and brilliant, Falling Man traces the way the events of September 11 have reconfigured our emotional landscape, our memory and our perception of the world. It is beautiful, heartbreaking, cathartic.
Novelist Don DeLillo’s City Arts & Lectures Event
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Reading Group Guide
1. Falling Man chronicles a tragic, defining moment in American history, yet the news stories are left out. We see the event through the eyes of the people who witnessed it, or through the story of the terrorist, Hammad. What do you make of DeLillo's choice?
2. Discuss Keith and Lianne's separate pursuits of solace and relief. What does Keith's relationship with Florence provide him? Why does Lianne depend so deeply on her meetings with the Alzheimer's patients? Are there similarities in the way that Keith and Lianne attempt to recuperate and comprehend their new post-9/11 world? What are the differences?
3. One plotline focuses on Nina, Lianne's mother, and Martin, Nina's German lover. What are the issues regarding America and American patriotism that surface in Nina and Martin's debates? What is the role of their story in the novel? Why is it significant that we discover that Martin's real name is Ernst Hechinger and that he was on the periphery of a terrorist group in Germany in the 1970s?
4. Keith eventually enters the professional poker circuit, spending a great majority of his time away from home, in anonymous windowless rooms, gambling. What do you think of Keith's descent into this state of alienation?
5. Why does Lianne believe that Keith wants to kill someone (p. 214)? Both Lianne and Keith have outbursts of anger or violence -- Keith when "shopping" for beds with Florence, Lianne in her enc see more