Saturday, May 30, 2015

Review: "Falling Man" by Don DeLillo

Falling Man is the most interesting Don DeLillo novel I have read so far, which, for a lack of anything better, his best as well. I haven’t read anything by him that was major or fantastic, but for some reason, I keep coming back to him once a year, or once every two years. What he is best at are ideas: whether they are a political conspiracy like in Libra, or something on a grand scale, like the collective American consciousness in what many will call his masterpiece, Underworld, the ideas at the heart of his story are unique and thrilling, even if I am not the kind of person who can grasp what they are right away, or even at all. My complaints, which do seep into this novel as well, are nothing new. His prose and dialogue is lifeless a little too much of the time, making some of his books intellectual black holes that threaten to swallow the reader. Luckily, this novel is rich in the former and lacking in the latter, as it tells the story of a man who survived the attacks on The World Trade Center, and what his family must deal with afterwards. Keith, a businessman with a failing marriage, walks out of the wreckage of the two towers (described in a brilliant scene towards the end) into a life that seems meaningless. Also suffering is his wife, Lianne, surrounding by the threat of aging as she spends time with her parents and teaches a class for Alzheimer’s patients. Soon, Keith takes up with a Florence, a woman who also survived the crash, while Lianne’s loneliness manifests itself in her interactions with the falling man, a performance artist who dangles himself above the streets in the same pose as the famous picture taken that fateful day. DeLillo works really well in tiny little scenes, like the moments Lianne has with her students, or when Keith becomes addicted to gambling, which leads into some of the books faults. Like all DeLillo novels, it is hard to see people talking like they do here, in intellectual nuggets that sound smarter than they actually are. But I can’t deny this is an entertaining book, which says a lot about an author who is sometimes too intelligent for his own good.

Rating: 4/5

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