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Critical Overview

By and large, critics do not find Falling Man to be DeLillo’s best effort. However, a number of critics are struck by the fact that several of DeLillo’s previous novels hinted at a possible terrorist attack on the United States. When DeLillo decided to write about the events of 9/11, critics anxiously awaited the novel but most were disappointed. Many chastised DeLillo for not providing enough historical context. However, some like Frank Rich, writing for the New York Times, does not find fault with DeLillo’s failure to provide a detailed account of the events.  Rich finds it fitting that DeLillo fills the novel with “oblique silences and enigmatic close-ups.” Through the fuzziness of DeLillo’s images in this novel, readers are able to experience the terror of the characters who have difficulty defining their new world.

James Ledbetter of the Village Voice agrees that Falling Man is not DeLillo’s best work, but still lauds the novel as a characteristically well-written and “compulsively creative work.” Ledbetter blames the genre, the nonfiction novel, for its limitations. Because of this stricture, Ledbetter ultimately concludes Falling Man is not much more than a “semi-public revising of grief.”