Windows on the World by Frederic BeigbederFiction/Autobiography
This book starts off quite simple and to the point. "You know how it ends: everybody dies". The book has the potential to be a great work of art, or to upset people and open still healing wounds. The book is split in two, alternating chapters between a fictional account of a man and his two children who go have breakfast at Windows on the World the fated day of September 11th, 2001, and an autobiography of the author Frederic Beigbeder. It is a translation from French, and unfortunately not a great translation.
At first, it's unclear what Beigbeder sets out to prove about himself. His writing leads you to believe he's writing about how his life has changed since 9/11 (he's a Frenchman and even talks about the American dislike for the French). But then it seems like he can't make up his mind. Is he writing about the current ways of the world? Is he writing about history? Is he writing about himself (because he does come off kind of egotistical)? It gets to the point where I skim through these chapters. Beigbeder just cannot keep my attention because it seems he can hardly keep his own attention. Every chapter is about something different.
The other story, however, is quite touching. How many of us have wondered what it would be like, god forbid, if we were trapped in the World Trade Center? Is it morbid to think it? Probably, but didn't the events of 9/11 prove that it's possible for anyone to be in the same situation? Carthew is an extremely flawed man. His wife has divorced him because he cheated on her and he has led an adulterer life. He has two children that he loves, but he is too self-absorbed to recognize the light that his children could give him in life. Carthew eventually comes to realization that his life has been pretty much wasted and that he is grateful for his kids, even though he brought them into the world only to die shortly after. This book is about the hope, despair, love, hate, faith, anger, and any other emotion you could think of.
"The two badly behaved children have reminded her that she needs to buy a present for her grandson's birthday ... She thinks she remembers seeing a branch of Toys R Us ... this is what she is thinking as the doors to the elevator close noiselessly. For the rest of her life, she will believe it was the Lord God who told her to leave at this precise moment; for the rest of her life she will wonder why He did so, why He spared her life, why He made her think of toys, why He chose her and not those two little boys."