12.30.2007

convergence

You know how sometimes the universe conspires to bring you similar messages from disparate sources? Hopefully, when this happens you're able to glean whatever lesson it is trying to teach you and learn whatever it is you're supposed to learn, but sometimes the message is too obscure and I can't decipher it. This is one of those times.

On Saturday, still feeling really strung out from my two nights in a row of four hours of sleep and nine-hour drive, I decided to stay home and watch Reign Over Me instead of catching the Slim Cessna show at The Aggie.

Overall, I thought it was pretty well done, although I got kind of tired of Adam Sandler's interpretation of how PTSD would alter his character's personality enough to make him act and [mostly] talk like a mentally retarded adult. Of course, this is Sandler's M.O. when trying to act in a 'dramatic' role. He did the same thing in Punch Drunk Love, although for some reason, it wasn't as annoying there. BUT other than that, I really enjoyed everything else about it. Don Cheadle and Liv Tyler were both excellent, the plot was engaging and the direction was outstanding. I really liked the way the story was told in 'chunks' at the beginning—to me this is how new friendships unfold, in little bursts—until the two men's lives became so intertwined that the story became more fluid.

Over the holiday break I started the second novel from author Julia Glass, The Whole World Over. I thoroughly enjoyed her first effort, Three Junes, and so I grew terribly excited when I discovered that Barnes & Noble finally had Whole World in paperback. I pretty much devoured the entire novel in about three days. I haven't enjoyed it as much as I did her debut, but her writing is still very superb and I've found myself becoming almost as engaged in her characters' lives as I did in Three Junes. However, I definitely did not see the 9/11 ending coming.

I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I am wondering why 9/11 came back into my life through these two different stories. Is is just that we're becoming less afraid to talk about it now? Or is it now long enough in the past that storytellers think it's ok to use it as a plot device? Because frankly, Reign Over Me could have used another tragic accident that took his family. It didn't have to be one of the plane crashes on 9/11. Or would another accident had caused his PTSD to the extent that 9/11 did? Was part of his PTSD wrapped up in the level of horror caused by the terrorists on that day? And the same can be said for Ms Glass' novel. A different tragic event could've brought all of the characters together at the end of the story, but would it have had the same impact as 9/11 did?

I don't know the answers to any of those questions, but I'm not too sure I'm excited to see 9/11 used as a plot device when something else would suffice. I think that's largely because I can't decide whether it trivializes it or whether it's good that people think it finally needs to be brought into our country's fictional history.

6 comments:

Dylan K said...

Interesting thoughts. To me, fiction is one way to attribute some meaning to 9/11 via the experiences of characters. As long as that meaning doesn't trivialize or misconstrue the event as I experienced it, I'm open to that. The fact that people's experiences of it varied and still vary so widely makes it a volatile and uncertain device though - sure to affect audiences in unpredictably different ways....

d said...

i just hope that people don't resort to it just for its' shock value. a good example is jonathan safran foer's 'extremely loud and incredibly close' where he used 9/11 as the central focus of the story not just a plot device.

Dylan K said...

Totally agreed. I'm afraid you may be foreseeing a phase of just that kind of use (I don't think ROM is an example - but), or just plain exploitation like "Rambo saves the twin towers" - ugh. A 9/11 action flick really would make me sick. Let's hope not.

d said...

oh. let's hope not. that will signal the end of the human race.

Scoobers said...

I have neither seen the movie nor read the book but all I can think is that nothing in our life time has had the same psychological impact as the events on 9/11. Tragedies happen every day and we worry for our loved ones, hoping that they remain safe but 9/11 was really unfathomable.
I don't know if some people will ever think it ok to use it as a plot line but maybe it could be a writer's way of examining their own emotional response to events of that time. (an optimistic version vs my more cynical money maker theory... ;)

d said...

i like your optimistic viewpoint better than MY cynical one of thinking that people just want to use it to sell things.