Thursday, May 10, 2012

Airplane Novel by Paul A. Toth

(pb; 2011)

From the back cover:

"You must use extraordinary measures to tell an extraordinary story. This book might be a novel and it might not be a novel. The characters might be real and they might be fictions. Many of the events described happened or they did not.

"Rules will be broken.

"Our narrator is not a person. It is a building; the South Tower of the World Trade Center, whose height and thousand of windows provide the first truly-panoramic view of 9/11.

"Sometimes the only way to learn the truth is through fiction."


What I liked about Airplane:

Toth's view-skewed take on 9/11 deftly avoids jingoistic simple-mindedness, which mars many 9/11 works. Also, the fact that Toth was willing to write an ambitious and experimental novel is to be applauded.

What I didn't like about Airplane:

Toth's narrator (South Tower, a.k.a. "Cary Grant") constantly - after every few paragraphs - either says "Wait" or reminds the reader what a newbie writer he is (e.g., "Am I sympathetic? I must know, since this story requires me to be the most sympathetic character of all. Yes, no, maybe? Have I held your interest and caused the appropriate rate of pages turned per minute? Can you hardly wait the end, yet want the book not to end?").

The first few times the narrator does this, it works, but these unrelenting interruptions (including South Tower's transmissions) break whatever spell Toth's writing might have on this reader.

Toth warns his readers that "rules will be broken," but when said rule breaking doesn't work, it's time to rethink that approach.

Borrow this wildly experimental and choppy work from the library before committing cash to it.

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