From the Archives: We celebrate Valentine’s Day with an homage to the living dead: Colson Whitehead’s Zone One. Don’t fancy a date with scary slavering? No matter. Michael Rudin finds the novel reads like an existential valentine to New York City, and that’s something even a zombie can love.
In one of my undergraduate creative writing classes, a student turned in a poem that referred to tall buildings collapsing to the ground. His classmates interpreted this as reference to the events of September 11. Later that week, the student came to my office and confessed that he’d actually written the poem in 2000, well before the attacks on the World Trade Center, and he didn’t want to write a “9/11 poem,” because–he said–he didn’t feel personally affected by the events of that day. What he wanted to know was this: Did he have to make the poem about 9/11, […]
“We create things that we hope will, someday, become objects of value. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, many writers–Foer, DeLillo, and Roth, to name just a few–all came out with 9/11 novels. I was initially bothered by this. I wanted to say, ‘Fuck you; I was there.’ This passed for a couple reasons. First was the realization that we’re all survivors of one type or another. Second, these texts can never really become authoritative positions on the experiences of a group of people, no matter how well written they are or how well credentialed their creators might be. There’s no uniform experience of being a 9/11 survivor, no uniform experience of being a woman. These are things that can’t be owned by anyone.”
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