I’ve clipped several reviews of the same book over the last few weeks, and its cover is now becoming familiar to me because of having seen it so many times: A Day at the Beach by Helen Schulman. It joins a growing class of post-9/11 novels, many set in New York, that use the tragedy of that day either overtly or as a thematic backdrop in their plots.
From Entertainment Weekly:
A 9/11 backdrop is no longer original. But using 9/11 as analogy is risky, potentially exploitative. In A Day at the Beach, an entrancing tale of 24 hours in a troubled marriage, Schulman writes about that day with journalistic detachment (doggedly matter-of-fact descriptions of brushing teeth or pouring coffee); yet she exhibits an artist’s eye for detail — likening repetitive TV news footage to the iconography of Jasper Johns, using René Magritte to illustrate a surreal burst of daylight (”it emanated from the ground instead of the sky”). As for the intriguingly ambiguous ending, the possibilities could provide material for two more novels. A-
From Blueprint: “The Steptember morning starts with such promse: Suzannah is going to take her 4-ear-old, Nikolai, to his first day of school. Then two planes hit the World Trade Center mere blocks from their apartment… and the book follows them in her pompous choreograper husband through a tumultuous 24 hours.”
The New York Timescalls the book “finely wrought, deeply felt and mercifully funny.”
From The Washington Post: “A Day at the Beach” tackles its own concerns — the conspiracy between the oppressor and the oppressed, as well as the actual efficacy of art — with skill and intelligence. It’s a novel of ideas, in the very best sense.
Anyone read this book yet?