Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reading 9/11

Everyone says never forget 9/11. I want to forget. I want to erase the image of the two black plumes drifting side by side over Manhattan. The grey towers crumbing out of the blue, turning to dust. I’m sorry. I want to forget, not the events, or people who died, but the sorrow. 

So, I haven’t read a single one of the books listed below. But, they make up my 9/11 reading list.  I need to add some fiction.

On Friday, the Globe’s Mark Feeney commented on 9/11 and the arts.

There have been photography collections (Joel Meyerowitz’s “Aftermath’’), a television series (“Rescue Me’’), films (“Flight 93,’’ “World Trade Center’’), novels (Don DeLillo’s “Falling Man,’’ Joseph O’Neill’s “Netherland’’), popular songs (Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,’’ Paul McCartney’s “Freedom’’), even a Pulitzer Prize-winning classical music piece (John Adams’s “On the Transmigration of Souls’’)…Yet considering the impact of Sept. 11 in other realms - political, diplomatic, economic - what’s surprising is that the list isn’t longer. It may be even more striking that no Sept. 11-inspired work has seized the popular or critical imagination in any sort of outsized way. Certainly, there have been no Sept. 11 counterparts to Erich Maria Remarque’s novel “All Quiet on the Western Front,’’ Picasso’s painting “Guernica,’’ Shostakovich’s “Leningrad’’ Symphony, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.’’

Maybe, maybe not.  Here’s my 9/11 reading list.

From today: Dan Barry in the NYTimes:

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, people everywhere did what people do in disaster’s fresh wake: We wept, prayed, raged, cowered, gathered, hid, drank, questioned, comforted and sought comfort. We also saved things, often little things, and often for reasons just beyond the full grasp of articulation. Now, a decade later, many of us still keep these mundane items, which timing and circumstance have forged into artifacts approaching the sacred. They return us instantly to a moment we have no desire to revisit, but are determined not to forget. They are our Sept. 11 relics.

 The footlong shred of a T-shirt that Susan Horn keeps in her bedroom drawer in Scarsdale, N.Y., as a reminder of a stranger’s selflessness. The jar of multicolored wax bits, remnants of the McLaughlin family’s front-porch candlelight vigil in Brewster, N.Y. The silver-framed calendar of the Rev. Paul Fromberg, an Episcopal priest in San Francisco, its page fixed on September 2001. The photo identification card kept in the wallet of Stacy Scherf Dieterlen, a temporary worker who fled the south tower’s 101st floor while some of her colleagues hesitated, and died.
From Harvard Book Store :

The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to9/11

Lawrence Wright
A gripping narrative that spans five decades, The Looming Tower explains in unprecedented detail the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the rise of al-Qaeda, and the intelligence failures that culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Lawrence Wright re-creates firsthand the transformation of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri from incompetent and idealistic soldiers in Afghanistan to leaders of the most successful terrorist group in history. He follows FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill as he uncovers the emerging danger from al-Qaeda in the 1990s and struggles to track this new threat. Packed with new information and a deep historical perspective

Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War (Paperback)

Anthony Shadid went to war in Iraq, but not as an embedded journalist. Born and raised in Oklahoma, of Lebanese descent, Shadid, a fluent Arabic speaker, has spent the last three years dividing his time between Washington, D.C., and Baghdad. The only journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for his extraordinary coverage of Iraq, Shadid is also the only writer to describe the human story of ordinary Iraqis weathering the unexpected impact of America's invasion and occupation.

The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban (Paperback)

As a former star reporter for NPR, Sarah Chayes developed a devoted listenership for her on-site reports on conflicts around the world. In The Punishment of Virtue, she reveals the misguided U.S. policy in Afghanistan in the wake of the defeat of the Taliban, which has severely undermined the effort to build democracy and allowed corrupt tribal warlords back into positions of power and the Taliban to re-infiltrate the country.

Seeds of Terror: How Drugs, Thugs, and Crime Are Reshaping the Afghan War (Paperback)

Seeds of Terror is a groundbreaking triumph of reporting, a book that changed U.S. policy toward the Afghan heroin trade and the fight against terror. In it, Gretchen Peters exposes the deepening relationship between the Taliban and drug traffickers, and traces decades of America's failure to disrupt the opium production that helps fund extremism.

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