List of Characters
Keith Neudecker—the novel’s protagonist, Lianne’s husband.
Lianne Glenn—Keith’s wife.
Justin—Keith and Lianne’s son.
Nina Bartos—Lianne’s mother.
Martin Ridnour—Nina’s lover (also known as Ernst Hechinger).
Jack Glenn—Lianne's father.
Falling Man—an actor who jumped off buildings; his real name is David Janiak.
Isabel—the mother of Justin’s friends.
Bill Lawton—an imaginary terrorist whose name Justin and his friends make up, a mispronunciation of Bin Laden.
Florence Givens—a woman with whom Keith develops a relationship.
Carol Shoup—editor in a publishing house.
Rosellen S, Omar H, Carmen G, Benny T, Anna C, and Curtis B—Alzheimer’s patients under the care of Dr. Apter.
Dr. Apter—physician of the Alzheimer’s patients.
Elena—a woman who plays loud Middle Eastern music in Lianne’s apartment building.
Hammad—one of the terrorists.
Amir (Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir el-Sayed Atta)—one of the terrorists.
Dockery, Hovanis, Demetrius , Terry Cheng, and Rumsey—Keith’s poker friends.
Keith, the protagonist of the novel, is an eyewitness to the terrorist attacks. Even before the attacks, Keith had been a man who liked being alone. He is estranged from his wife and child and socialized only through sports and poker games. Keith goes back to Lianne only when he becomes dazed by the blast of the towers and his narrow escape. He never admits his love for his wife, but something inside of him finds peace in being in her company, at least temporarily. He does not open up to his wife. He never talks about his experiences in the tower. Instead, he visits Florence, who, like himself, is a victim. He has sex with Florence, but it is not an emotional relationship. It is as if Keith becomes involved with Florence because he thinks he should do so. Duty rather than love is also true of Keith’s relationship with his son, Justin. There is no sense of emotional connection. Keith is the boy’s father and will do what he thinks a father should do.
Keith appears to live only through his intellect. That is one reason that he becomes so involved in poker. He likes to assess other people’s psychology, at least in terms of this card game. He wants to beat them not so much for the money but because he understands their movements, facial expressions, and their needs. The closest Keith comes to expressing emotion is when Rumsey, one of Keith’s poker buddies and coworkers, is burned in the tower and Keith must leave him behind.
Whereas Keith appears to hover over life in an objective realm, his wife Lianne is totally involved emotionally in everything around her. She is overwhelmed by her emotions and sometimes does things that she does not fully understand, such as when she punches Elena, her neighbor, for playing music too loudly. Lianne is constantly worried about her son. Justin either is over-absorbed in his studies, or he is...
(The entire section is 510 words.)