Sunday, September 11, 2005

Beigbeder and Breakfast

It wasn't a conscious decision to read Windows On The World by Frederic Beigbeder in the week leading up to the fourth anniversary of 9/11, but that's the way it panned out and the symmetry ultimately didn't escape me. The winner of The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2005 alternates a fictionalised account of an American family doomed while breakfasting in the titular WTC restaurant with a (similarly fictionalised?) autobiography that allows the author to come to terms (as a Frenchman with American ancestry) to his own reaction to the events at a time his personal and professional lives are at a crossroads.

Initially, the juxtaposition of the factual and fictional, and the almost indescribably terrifying with the banal details and introspection of the autobiographical elements, seems clumsy and glib. And yet Beigbeder somehow manages to pull these strands together by the second half of the book, in the process tackling many of the obvious criticisms of the whole concept within the text itself. The result is a novel that manages to be hard-hitting yet enigmatic, poignant but determinedly unsentimental, a book that is as evidently flawed, occasionally really annoying yet ultimately likeable as the author himself.


Blogger Ben said...

I didn't enjoy Beigbeder's '9.99' as much as I'd expected I would, but you've got me interested in this.

11:10 PM  

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