Words in Boxes

Nouns, verbs, and occasionally adjectives.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Judging a Book by its Cover

I started the book waiting in the terminal of Tampa International Airport.

“What are you reading?”

“Oh, about September 11.”

I guess my timing could have been better.

Falling Man's cover is elegant, clean, and cool (click the picture to expand). Two long, thin parallel lines intersect the title of the book in front of a grainy photograph of clouds, and only when you turn the book over can you see two tiny World Trade Centers towers poking through.

As every review quotes the opening lines, so will too: “It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night.” The prose on the first page is wonderful, and on the second page, and the third page, but not long after that the foggy language and disconnected scenes start reading like a caricature of the signature “DeLillo” style. But it could just be that this book, unlike others of his I’ve read, is about an events that don’t yet feel like part of the past. I bet its tight and stylized focus on a single surviving family will age well, better at least than two other “9/11 novels,” Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Saturday.

All of that makes it sound like I didn’t like Falling Man. I did, even a lot. I just liked its cover better.

I'm James Sulak, a software developer in Houston, Texas.

You can also find me on Twitter, or if you're curious, on my old-fashioned home page. If you want to contact me directly, you can e-mail comments@wordsinboxes.com.