Dangerous Characters

From The New York Times:

Face_3 The destruction of the World Trade Center transformed the preceding dozen years, since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, immediately into a historical period. It was clear at once that American statecraft, domestic politics and popular consciousness would not go on as before. As for literature, it couldn’t matter much at first, in the face of so much murder and alarm. Camus observed that extreme suffering deprives us of the taste for reading, and this may be the more true of extreme fear.

Once it became possible to think about books again, there was no doubting that the American novel was bound to be altered as well. But we would have to wait to see how. The novel registers historical change profoundly but not swiftly, for the simple reason that it usually takes several years to conceive, write, revise and publish a book. In terms of literary history, it’s only now that the period before 9/11 is drawing to a close.

More here.