Synopses & Reviews
"'You know how it ends: everybody dies.' Thus begins Beigbeder's gripping apocalyptic novel, which takes place on September 11, 2001 the date on which New York realtor Carthew Yorston has taken his seven- and nine-year-old sons for a long-promised breakfast at the eponymous eatery atop the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Alternating with Smith's narration is the voice of Beigbeder himself or a thinly disguised version of the French author musing about the tragedy one year later over his own breakfast in Le Ciel de Paris, on the 56th floor of the Tour Montparnasse, the tallest building in Paris. Each chapter of the novel represents one minute on that fateful morning, from 8:30 to 10:29; nearly all are less than three pages, and several prove startling in their brevity ['In the Windows, the few remaining survivors intone Irving Berlin's 'God Bless America' (1939)']. Both men riff on everything from trivia to politics and make often poignant philosophical observations. Abundant doses of gallows humor at once add levity and underscore the drama. Yorston's overheard snatches of fatuous cell-phone conversations, for example, would be funny in another context, while the enforced exit of a cigar-smoking guest at Windows on the World 'thereby proves that a cigar can save your life.' Though some readers may be put off by this novel's subject matter, Beigbeder invests his narrators with such profound humanity that the book is far more than a litany of catastrophe: it is, on all levels, a stunning read. FYI:Beigbeder's novel debuted at #2 on the French bestseller list. The English edition is slightly different from the French original because, Beigbeder writes in an Author's Note, when he reread the book in English, 'there were, I felt, moments when it was starker and perhaps more likely to wound than I intended.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]his is a story without answers, but one that takes the worst that humanity can dish out and faces it down, unflinchingly. Sometimes slight, but always impressive: an important addition to the chorus of heavier, more lifeless tomes on the subject." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] powerful, earnest, and in some ways playful novel that successfully blends tragedy and pathos with an irresistible exuberance for life....A brave, intriguing, emotionally resonant work; enthusiastically recommended." Library Journal
"Frederic Beigbeder's Windows on the World is the first novel to perfectly capture the bizarre collection of emotional modes we juggled in 2002, just after the first shock of Sept. 11 was beginning to wear off. The book staggers from full-fledged storytelling to barely veiled memoir to essay to random, canny observation. It's a discombobulated, contradictory work, but it rings true in a way that other stabs at the same topic haven't." Salon.com
Weaving together philosophy, myth, world politics, and humor, this stunning work of literary daring is a fearless, moving, and unsettling novel set against the events of September 11.