Friday, August 25, 2006

an absolute disjunction

Michelle Huneven interviews Claire Messud in the LA Weekly, upon the release of Messud's new novel The Emperor's Children:

So you didn't exactly set out to write a 9/11 novel.

I was confronted with this problem. In 2001, I was writing this novel set in New York in 2001. Even though I had to start it again, it was already so present in my mind, it wasn'’t a novel set in 1999, it was set in 2001. People have said, Oh, you'’ve written a 9/11 novel, but I was trying to write an August 1914 novel. In August 1914, everybody was punting up and down the Thames River and eating strawberries and having picnics, and then, a few months later, they were in uniform and being sent out to the front - — an absolute disjunction.

On the same topic, NPR asks "Can Fiction Help Make Sense of Sept. 11?" Of the texts I've read that have approached the subject, including Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Twilight of the Superheroes, I felt Benjamin Kunkel's Indecision captured the complete sense of unreality that followed the crash of the first plane. Kunkel's characters might have seemed callous as they speculated on what was happening, but I remember the same lack of recognition as to how irrevocably our world had just changed.

Update: George Saunders's "The Cats of 9/11" appeared the day of this post.