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9/11 and the Literature of Terror

9/11 and the Literature of Terror

Martin Randall
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    9/11 and the Literature of Terror
    Book Description:

    Explores the fiction, poetry, theatre and cinema representing the 9/11 attacks.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4697-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Introduction: Eyewitnesses, Conspiracies and Baudrillard
    (pp. 1-18)

    The ten-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11 is fast approaching and the inevitable and necessary analysis of their impact has begun (if, indeed, it ever went away). The historical significance of 9/11 appears relatively assured in that it provides us with a convenient starting date for the twenty-first century in that so many of the decade’s most important events have been triggered by the attacks. The Bush Administration’s ‘War on Terror’ – with the controversial invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – is only the most pronounced of a number of consequences that have emerged...

  5. Chapter 1 ʹBeyond Beliefʹ: McEwan, DeLillo and 110 Stories
    (pp. 19-44)

    On 12 September 2001, Ian McEwan published ‘Beyond Belief’ inThe Guardian. What is interesting about this, beyond the mere fact of the article’s haste and proximity to the events of the day before, is that McEwan, a novelist, felt compelled to write about scenes that, as he readily admits, ‘only television could bring.’¹ McEwan was only one of many novelists who, in the days and weeks that followed, attempted to write about 9/11 whilst, invariably, recognising the difficulties of such a task. The events became a ‘spectacle’ with remarkable speed and, as McEwan describes, unfolded before a global audience...

  6. Chapter 2 ʹTotal Malignancy … Militant Ironyʹ: Martin Amis, The Second Plane
    (pp. 45-62)

    Martin Amis’The Second Plane: September 11: 2001–2007(London: Jonathan Cape, 2008) collects together the majority of his journalism and stories inspired by the attacks. These include his first response published on 18 September 2001 through essays on terrorism and Islamism, Bush and Blair, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and two short stories, ‘In the Palace of the End’ and ‘The Last Days of Muhammad Atta’. Along with DeLillo and McEwan, Amis was one of the first novelists to write about the attacks in non-fiction pieces and one can detect a development of ideas from this writing to...

  7. Chapter 3 ʹYou Know How it Endsʹ: Metafiction and 9/11 in Windows on the World
    (pp. 63-77)

    There is a growing sense that the traditional realist novel struggles to accommodate the profound ‘rupture’ of 9/11. Furthermore, as will be argued later in the study in relation to a text such asMan on Wire, there is a developing suggestion that fictional realism might not be the most efficacious or suitable genre and that more hybrid forms – the graphic novel, the essay/memoir, the film-poem, conceptual art – are better suited to represent the attacks.Falling Mansearches for appropriate metaphors in order best to capture the ‘haunted’, uncanny aftermath of the attacks and it is in the...

  8. Chapter 4 ʹA Wing and a Prayerʹ: Simon Armitage, Out of the Blue
    (pp. 78-87)

    Simon Armitage’s film-poemOut of the Bluewas shown on Channel Five on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2006.¹ It has subsequently been published in 2008² alongside two more long poems dealing with the Allied Forces victory on 8 May 1945 and the Cambodian genocide. Armitage has written such poetry before, most notably in the 1000–line workKilling Time(1999) that was published to commemorate the Millennium. As has been seen throughout this study, 9/11 poses many complex problems for prose writers and it is instructive to look at how Armitage responds to the attacks in verse.³ One of...

  9. Chapter 5 ʹA Certain Blurring of the Factsʹ: Man on Wire and 9/11
    (pp. 88-98)

    At first it might seem strange to include a chapter on a film that does not mention the attacks on 9/11 once. But James Marsh’sMan on Wire(2008), a documentary detailing the audacious cable-walk between the two towers of a 24–year-old Frenchman Philippe Petit in 1974, is ‘about’ 9/11 in many intriguing and subtle ways.¹ Indeed, it is the very absence of the attacks in the film that allows the audience to contemplate the ‘presence’ of the towers as Petit finally succeeds in his spectacular ‘crime/work of art’. As Bryan Appleyard writes:

    A mood of anticipatory sadness and...

  10. Chapter 6 ʹHe is Consoling, She is Distraughtʹ: Men and Women and 9/11 in The Mercy Seat and The Guys
    (pp. 99-119)

    As has been seen throughout this study, marriage and male/female relationships have been a common motif in much 9/11 writing. Some critics have argued that this is a kind of ‘retreat’, accusing American writers of turning away from the political ramifications of the attacks and returning to the novelistic conventions of the minutiae of heterosexual relationships. Marriage has, of course, always been a primary concern for novelists and perhaps one can argue that, say in the case ofFalling Man, this trope has been used as a microcosm for the wider preoccupations of post-9/11 America. As has also been argued,...

  11. Chapter 7 ʹEverything Seemed to Mean Somethingʹ: Signifying 9/11 in Don DeLilloʹs Falling Man
    (pp. 120-130)

    Don DeLillo’sFalling Man(2007)¹ begins with the immediate aftermath of the WTC attacks:

    It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night. He was walking north through rubble and mud and there were people running past holding towels to their faces or jackets over their heads. They had handkerchiefs pressed to their mouths. They had shoes in their hands, a woman with a shoe in each hand, running past him. They ran and fell, some of them, confused and ungainly, with debris coming down around them, and there were...

  12. Conclusion: ʹI am a Lover of Americaʹ
    (pp. 131-144)

    As we have seen throughout this study, 9/11 has provided writers (and filmmakers) with profound problems of representation. In the ten years since the attacks there have been a huge number of novels, poems, plays and films that, in various different ways have responded to the attacks. It is, of course, comparatively early to begin establishing a poetics of 9/11 representation and this study is merely a contribution to this growing area of research. Nevertheless there is a sense that such representations are moving away from the ‘sacralising’, ‘mythologising’ and ‘commemorative’ discourses that have dominated how 9/11 has been written...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 145-160)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 161-168)
  15. Index
    (pp. 169-176)