April 10, 2006, - 10:09 am
By Debbie Schlussel
We know they are called “fiction” for a reason. But the new fiction books about terrorism are disturbing.
Friday’s Wall Street Journal did a feature on “United 93” and other movies soon to come out about the 9/11 attacks. We’re looking forward to those, as they will serve to remind Americans who’ve already forgotten and fallen back into their slumber.
But the story also explored selections on terrorism in fiction novels. And it isn’t pretty.
The Journal reports that a new Nelson DeMille novel, “Wildfire,” set in October 2002, will focus on “a right-wing plot to detonate nuclear bombs on both coasts.” Hmmm . . . in 2002, a plot to detonate dirty bombs in America was uncovered. Question: Was Abdullah Al-Muhajir a/k/a Jose Padilla a “right-winger” a la Ann Coulter?
We don’t think so. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to purchase anything by DeMille for your summer beach reading.
Then, there’s John Updike. The theme of his upcoming novel, “Terrorist,” is understanding why 18-year-old New Jersey-ite Ahmad is drawn into a violent plot. The Journal quotes Updike’s editor, Judith Jones of publisher, Alfred A. Knopf:
“He wanted to get inside the skin of a young person drawn to this kind of suicidal attack . . . . You do get particular insights from a novel like this. . . . [Y]ou can at least understand the mind-set.”
Here’s an excerpt of a Publisher’s Weekly review of the book. Sounds pretty disgusting:
Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy . . . is the son of an Egyptian exchange student who married a working-class Irish-American girl and then disappeared when Ahmad was three. Ahmad, disgusted by his mother’s inability to get it together, is in the thrall of Shaikh Rashid, who runs a storefront mosque and preaches divine retribution for “devils,” including the “Zionist dominated federal government.”
The list of devils is long: it includes Joryleen Grant, the white trash slut with a heart of gold; Tylenol Jones, a black tough guy with whom Ahmad obliquely competes for Joryleen’s attentions (which Ahmad eventually pays for); Jack Levy, a Central High guidance counselor who at 63 has seen enough failure, including his own, to last him a lifetime (and whose Jewishness plays a part in a manner unthinkable before 9/11); Jack’s wife, Beth, as ineffectual and overweight (Updike is merciless on this) as she is oblivious; and Teresa Mulloy, a nurse’s aide and Sunday painter as desperate for Jack’s attention, when he takes on Ahmad’s case, as Jack is for hers. Updike has distilled all their flaws to a caustic, crystalline essence; he dwells on their poor bodies and the debased world in which they move unrelentingly, and with a dispassionate cruelty that verges on shocking. Ahmad’s revulsion for American culture doesn’t seem to displease Updike one iota..
Thanks, John Updike, for telling us why 9/11 happened: We, as Americans, all suck. We’re bad mothers who abandon their half-Muslim kids, sluts, losers, black tough guys, Jewish, fat, stupid. Plus, our culture invited this. Yes, it’s all our fault that almost 3,000 died. We brought it on ourselves. We deserved it. Thanks for the education, John Updike.
Uh, haven’t we already had enough blame-America, understand-the-terrorist, why-do-they-hate-us pap? Say it ain’t so, John. Apparently, in his old age, Updike has run out of good ideas.
Tags: Abdullah Al-Muhajir, Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy, aide, Alfred A. Knopf, America, Ann Coulter, Beth, Central High guidance counselor, Debbie Schlussel We, editor, Jack Levy, John Updike, John Updike Blames, Judith Jones, Nelson DeMille, New Jersey, New Jersey-ite Ahmad, nurse, painter, Publisher's Weekly, Shaikh Rashid, Teresa Mulloy, understand-the-terrorist, United 93, Updike, Wall Street Journal