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It is the book’s contention that the terrorist attacks have spawned new forms of domestic order relying simultaneously on new modes of intimacy, solidarity, affect, and other, more collective modes of socialty.It is thus pertinent to assess how cultural readings as sensitive as Lauren Berlant’s model of the intimate public sphere or Judith Butler’s idea of reciprocality in mourning and bodily vulnerability might give us insight into the way the archive requires and fuels a new sense of (personal, familial and collective) identities.In (1988), as we might recall, this tendency is almost programmed into the interior workings of the CIA that in the novel’s overpowering vision leads to President Kennedy’s assassination.
Both views are represented in an array of fine, sensitive, and provocative analyses presented in Cvek’s book dealing with the aftermath of 9/ 11 but also pointing to a prehistory of the event.
The book’s agenda is deceptively simple as the author intends to uncover what lies behind the “hegemonic cultural encoding” (187) of 9/11 attacks in New York City in particular (other locations are mentioned but not elaborated on).
The book proceeds to deal with De Lillo’s fictional and non-fictional, direct and oblique responses to 9/11.
De Lillo’s interposition is very important here as a middle point between the two aforementioned stances since he seems to be one of the authors that has given sustained attention to different forms of terror-inducing and terrorist behavior.
Trauma theory is productively ruffled by concurrent reading approaches of new American studies, introducing categories of empire, political theories, nationalism studies, ethnic and postcolonial, and queer readings.
Cultural theory, and its offshoot of visuality and media studies, offers another point of entry into the archive under examination.
The reader is in for the main surprise, however, in the chapters that in a bold but fully motivated move enact the expansion of the 9/11 archive thus raising and keeping in focus a number of controversial and submerged questions, especially within the purview of a US-based perspective on the terrorist attacks.
The additions to the archive are De Lillo’s novel predating , a novel that apparently has very little if nothing at all to do with the 9/11 itself, of which the author subtly dissuades us in chapter seven, with an even bolder intervention occurring in the final chapter which offers a reading of Thomas Pynchon’s latest monster of the novel, .
Spike Lee's filmic intervention offered in What is brought in by the inclusion in chapters five and six of De Lillo’s, first, occasional piece, an essay entitled “In the Ruins of the Future,” written in immediate response to the attacks, and, subsequently, a novel that he was working on at the time, , are at least two major concerns.
The first invites us to observe a necessary, if not immediately obvious, economic undercurrent permeating not so much the event itself as the encodings it has elicited over the ensuing months and years, while the second refers explicitly to the way De Lillo urges us to think of 9/11 and of the responses to it as an attempt by the USA to grapple with a new phase of globalization, where it no longer figures as a single strongest player (247).