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kristen m.

I agree with you in that I find it hard to read contemporary-setting fiction but I don't necessarily see it as a failing. Books for me are an escape and a chance to experience something different from my world and my life. When I read about Victorian England or Post-Colonial India or any other foreign setting (in time and space), it's a chance to learn and expand. I don't want to read about someone on Prozac in Los Angeles. There's just no point. I hear about those people every day. Maybe I will read books that fictionalize the history that we are living now when I am older.


Ha! I know I wrote that, but I can't think of a single essay on the subject. I can only come up with two novels as well - Don Delillo's Falling Man and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm sure there have been loads, but I just can't think of them.

Dorothy W.

The Best American Essay series has had a good number of essays on the subject in the last few years (I can't remember which years had the most unfortunately). I'm not particularly interested in reading fiction about 9/11, but essays are different -- they seem a more natural form in which to take up the subject right now.


The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander Newfoundland, by Jim DeFede, is an uplifting book about the people of Newfoundland literally opening their doors to thousands of stranded travelers on planes forced to land when US air space was closed. It's a slightly different angle on the events of 9/11 and will end up on my list of favorites this year!


I can't see it as a failing either, if anything it proves that you have empathy in abundance.

Some years ago I read the novel Windows on the World by French author Frédéric Beigbeder. Chapters are alternately written from the viewpoint of a divorced father and his two young sons trapped inside the restaurant (very well written), and the author himself in Paris (rather annoying). On the whole I thought it was a good book, worth the read. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars at the time.

Here you can find a collection of mixed reviews:


I don't see that as a failing on your part. You're just being honest about your feelings. In fact, I feel pretty much the same way. I don't want to read fiction that deals with the horrific things that are going on in the world today.


Don't read what you won't enjoy. Life is too short.

There is still a lot to process about 9/11, so a few more books may be coming out in the future.


Kristen--I'm all for escapism as well. One of the few books I started and then set aside this year was a contemporary novel set partially in California and some of the characters were totally neurotic--very cliched. I decided it just wasn't my thing--So I know what you mean.
Litlove--I know you were writing generally, but it seemed to make sense that essays might be more what I am looking for. I can only think of the Claire Massud novel that recently came out and was set during the 9/11 period. I have it somewhere.
Dorothy--I think you're right! And now I recall you writing about some of these collections. I will have to see what the bookstore or library has. It does seem like a better format for what I'm looking for anyway.
JoAnn--Now this would also be more up my alley as well. I did hear of this book but had forgotten. Thanks for the suggestion--I'll look for it.
Lethe--I think failing wasn't really the right word either, now that I think about it. I feel like I should read more contemporary lit--if only to be reading a viariety of books about a variety of subjects. I've never heard of the Beigbeder book--I will check it out, too. And thanks for the link.
Lisa--I don't have a problem with past events, but the really contemporary issues are harder for me to read about. I guess I get enough of that in the news and reading novels is a way for me to relax and get away from the realities of the world.
Isabel--I'm pretty good about reading just what I like, but sometimes you feel like you "should be reading something", you know. And I think 9/11 will be a topic for authors for a very long time to come.


there's one non-fiction book by Thomas L Friedman, NY Times' foreign affairs columnist entitled "Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11

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