April 2012 – Monthly Wrap Up

April started with a short 9-11 theme where I read three books related to 9-11. I really like it when you get to look at a subject from different authors’ point of view. I loved it when I read a lot about Charles Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood and I have enjoyed it with these 9-11 books too. I really have to incorporate that more in my reading in the future! But … not much else happened with regard to reading this month.

Again this month I had hoped to make it through 6 books, but darn that Clarissa. She’s standing in the way of my making it to more than 4. I’m not sure exactly what happened this month. 3 out of the 4 books were rather short – and the last one, Battle Royale, was long (624 pages) but easy to read so even though I spent time reading Clarissa, I should have read at least 5 books. And this means that I’m only 2 books ahead now. I had hoped to be 4 books ahead at this point – I need to build up a solid lead to prepare for Les Miserables later this year …

So – here’s what I did manage to finish this month.

  1. Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. An incredibly book about a boy loosing his father in the 9-11 attacks and trying to come to term with it. 5 stars.
  2. Don DeLillo: Falling Man. A survivor from the attacks on the World Trade Centers try to come to terms with his life and figure out how to put his life back together while a performance artist reenacts one of the victims’ fall all over town. 3 stars.
  3. Amy Waldman: The Submission. What if a Muslim American designs the winning monument for Ground Zero? What would happen? A good book that manages to evoke the feeling that was dominating in the time after the 9-11 attacks. 3 stars.
  4. Koushun Takami: Battle Royale. 40 students is put on an island, given weapons and told to fight each other ’till only one is still alive. The Hunger Games for adults – with much more violence. 5 stars.

I only read 1495 pages this month. Normally, I read more than 2000 pages a month so I’m not sure what happened. Yes, I did read some Clarissa, but still. I did that too in the previous months. And in some of them I read more than 2000 pages as well as a book on my kindle and some Clarissa. So this month was just bad. And I don’t know why…

So I did rather lousy with my challenges this month. I did read 3 books for my Mount TBR Reading Challenge so I have now read 13 books so far for this challenge. So I’m more than halfway there so this is going good. I did read another bonus chunkster this month for the Chunkster ChallengeBattle Royale with it’s 624 pages. I still need to read one book which is greater than 750 pages so I didn’t make any progress with this challenge. I didn’t read anything by either Haruki Murakami or Neil Gaiman, so no progress with either of these challenges. I’m struggling along with the Clarissa read-a-long – I’m finding it really hard to take time from the other books I’m reading to sit down with Clarissa. So I’m behind but not a lot and I will catch up at some point. I’m stubborn enough to finish this book this year (at least I’m pretty sure I’m that stubborn…!). And finally, my own challenge, my list of 25 books that I want to read this year … and I managed to read … none. Zero. Zilch.

Since I didn’t read even one book from my list of 25 books, I have some catching up to do. Since I don’t want to play catch-up in the last months of this year, I have to get some books read from my list and for the other challenges. So I have to focus on that in May. I plan to finish The City & The City, of course, and probably also Dragonfly in Amber and The Mists of Avalon – and hopefully 1 or two more. And that’s just to catch up! Sighs … But I made this list because I really want to read these books so I just have to buckle down and get to it! And that’s what May is for!

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Don DeLillo: Falling Man (review)

So Don DeLillo … I have had a hard time with Don DeLillo for a while now. I’ve read Mao II several years ago and didn’t really get it and later I tried reading Underworld and I gave it up after 100 or more pages because I didn’t really care about it. But it still sits there on my shelf, mocking me. When I saw this book, I knew I had to have it and give DeLillo another chance. And I plan on trying to read Underworld again later this year so this book is kind of an attempt to summon up my courage for that.

So Falling Man is my re-introduction to Don DeLillo. And I must admit that after having thought about it for some days after finishing it, the main thing I feel is frustrated. This is one of those book where I read it and I keep feeling that there’s something more lurking in it, something lurking just out of the corner of my eye that I just can’t see and just doesn’t get. I feel like I don’t have the proper tools to grasp this novel, unfortunately.

Where Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is about a family who lost a loved one in the 9-11 attack, this family didn’t loose anyone. But they suffered the same loss as every New Yorker did that day – the loss of innocence, of feeling safe. When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, Keith was in one of the towers. But he was one of the lucky ones, he managed to get out by walking slowly down the stairs in a line, together with other survivors. Keith got out and walked all the way through the city to his apartment, his old apartment where he used to live with his wife and child before they were separated.

But the 9-11 attack changed things and now Keith and his wife Lianne are trying to get back together, to make it work. But while walking out of the towers, Keith trapped a random suitcase and he decides to return it to it’s owner, Florence. Florence also survived the attack, walking down the stairs just like Keith did. And when Keith and Florence meet, they find that they can speak to each other about their experience in the towers. They meet and talk, they sit in together and eventually, things evolve between them. At least physically. So Keith is cheating on his wife while trying to get back together with her. Still, it’s clear that his relationship with Florence isn’t a real relationship, it’s a way of healing, of coming to terms with things together with someone who experienced it as well.

At the same time as I feel very frustrated with this novel, there are things in it that are truly amazing. I loved how the name Bill Lawson turns out to be a child’s mishearing of Bin Laden. I loved how he showed the kids sitting in their rooms, watching the skies for signs of more planes. Lianne’s group of people with Alzheimer’s, writing what they remember – wanting to remember the attack on the towers but forgetting against their will…

This is a novel about the impact of 9-11. About how it penetrated everything so that everywhere you look, you see the towers. You see the towers crumbling. And you don’t want to see that. The Falling Man is a performance artist who re-enacts a man falling from the towers over and over, all over New York. Lianne sees him once and as everyone else, she is shocked by this. He in some ways embodies the remembrance. Maybe because if you don’t remember history, you are doomed to repeat it? Or maybe because you have to face your fears before you can conquer them? Keith have to go back to the towers to be able to move forward.

The book begins right after the towers were hit. In the chaotic ash-covered streets of New York. And it ends inside the towers in a world where there’s only one thing to focus on – a staircase going down.

  • Title: Falling Man
  • Author: Don DeLillo
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Year: 2007
  • Pages: 246 pages
  • Source: Own Collection
  • Stars: 3 stars out of 5

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Introducing a new theme: 9-11

From my experience of reading several books related to Charles Dickens and his unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood I have learned, that it brings something extra to the reading experience when you attack a theme from several angles or view points. And because of that, I would like to read more in themes – choose a few books with the same issues or some other relation to each other and read them close together. My Dickens-Drood theme has been a rather huge affair and I’m not done with it yet. But this is not preventing me from reading other themes – especially shorter themes with only a few books.


When something happens, when disaster strikes, it often takes some time before it shows up in fiction and popular culture. It’s been more than 10 years since 9-11 and my impression is that not many authors have dared to write about this theme. I haven’t read any books about it yet – and I have to admit that I haven’t watched any movies with this theme either. But I have three books on my shelves about 9-11 and I’m looking forward to reading them and to see what these three different authors have to say about this theme.

  1. Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The movie version of this was nominated for an Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year and the trailer looked interesting. The book looks very different from most other novels with it’s blank pages, pages with only one sentence on it or several pages with pictures of a falling man. Also, Jonathan Safran Foer is an author that I’m looking forward to reading so I’m excited about this.
  2. Don DeLillo: Falling Man. I have not had the best of luck with Don DeLillo so far. I gave up on Underworld and although I have read Mao II it didn’t make a huge impression on me (but I think I had the wrong expectations). This is a novel about a 9-11 survivor and I’m hoping this will change my impression of Don DeLillo – especially since I plan on giving Underworld another try later this year.
  3. Amy Waldman: The Submission. This novel is more about the aftermath of 9-11. It’s not mentioned explicit in this novel that it’s about 9-11 but it’s about a memorial for a devastating terrorist attack. A jury gathers to select what memorial – and the anonymous winner turns out to be an American Muslim. I’m so looking forward to reading this novel!