Lianne and Keith have been separated for a year and a half when the World Trade Center, where Keith works, is attacked. He has his own apartment, and a girlfriend, but it is to Lianne’s apartment, where she lives with their son Justin, that Keith comes, dazed and covered with ash. He stays while he recuperates from his injuries and they discover they don’t hate each other, that life goes on, but that “we’re all a little older and wiser,” as Keith says. It is still somewhat rare for 9/11 to be at the heart of a short story, but that’s the case here, including the frightening impact it has on the children in the story who keep on the lookout for more planes. DeLillo isn’t trying to do too much with this story, which is a good thing. The family is trying to cope, and they’re a little wiser, and sadder. The dialogue here is especially interesting because of its disconnectedness. Keith and Lianne speak in almost non sequiturs, not quite in the way of real dialogue, but almost as in code. There are more blanks for the reader to fill in, which makes the dialogue seem longer and fuller than it is on the page. It’s masterful.
April 9, 2007: “Still-Life” by Don DeLillo