RARA-AVIS: Re: 9/11 (was: The New Generation)

From: James R. Winter ( winter_writes@earthlink.net)
Date: 17 Mar 2005

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Bludis Jack <buildsnburns@y...> wrote:

> I think one of the things that may have hurt
> Scudder is Block's obsession with 9-11. It was a
> trauma for all of us, but a bigger trauma for
> native New Yorkers. With some it is an obsession.
> I have a close relative who lives in an apartment
> with porch on 72nd Street who claims she could
> smell the debris after the towers went down.
> That kind of thing takes a toll, and if I'm not
> mistaken, Lawerence Block lived a lot closer to
> the towers than she does.

Here's the issue, and I saw a little bit of this all over Manhattan since Sunday. New Yorkers feel like they have a big target painted on their backs now. And they do. That's coming out in the writing. I even saw the cover for a popular novel that involves 9/11 quite a bit. The original cover was subtle. The mass market cover will be anything but, unless you consider not showing the buildings burning or collapsing subtle.

Block does live closer. He's in the Village if I'm not mistaken (as are a couple of other writers familiar to this group.) And a friend of mine from Jersey, along with another who lives in the West 90's, both said they could smell the site for a month.

I got to see Ground Zero for the first time Sunday morning. We've all seen it on CNN as a hole in the ground. ("Yeah, yeah, tragic. Don't let it happen again. Now what about Scott Peterson again?") Seeing it surrounded by highway signs and construction barriers and in the middle of Manhattan traffic made me numb for a moment. For the first time, it was in the middle of a living, breathing city where I'd just had breakfast, listened to my host gripe about his commute and his business (which was, in fact, my business, though with different people), and most compelling of all, I'm moments later walking down a dark alley under construction tarp, trying to find the observation deck. That brought that whole sickening month back to me. Also, it forced me to start referring to the Trade Center as part of the city instead of this touchstone the rest of us see it as, just as it was when the Towers stood, because that's what it is and how it was talked about day to day. But imagine having to live with that reminder day after day after day. Even if you don't go downtown all that often, you go buy sooner or later. Everyday, you look up and there's a piece of the skyline that's just gone. And that smell. All I smelled was car exhaust, but imagine the smell of burning rubble and dust in the air for at least a month afterward.

Now imagine you're Block or SJ Rozan or Jim Fusilli. There is no way that can't permeate what you write, even if you try to move on with your life. It's there. It's not going away.

Hopefully, I kept that on topic. It struck a nerve, though, and it's hard for me not to say anything.

Jim Winter

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Mar 2005 EST