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Stock Characters in 9/11 Fiction

Homosociality and Nihilist Performance

Sandra Singer

Stock Characters in 9/11 Fiction considers fictional work of the time subsequent to the attacks. The book develops and investigates models of stock characters in 9/11 fiction who promote the trauma meme within a narrative arc of tragedy; the conceptual evolution of trauma and media as thematic arcs is interpreted within specific 9/11 novels and in correspondence with other terrorist fiction. The almost exclusively male stock character protagonists include the male homosocial perpetrator and the tightrope walker. Among the more recent authors discussed are Amy Waldman and Thomas Pynchon, whose novels illustrate the way characters inhabit media models, rather than, as previously thought, using media for disseminating terrorist events and messaging. Other featured writers include Bernhard Schlink, Don DeLillo, Claire Messud, Ian McEwan, Joseph O’Neill, and Colum McCann. Stock Characters in 9/11 Fiction is a valuable text for scholars of 9/11 fiction, as well as for professors and university students studying contemporary literature.

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Chapter 5. Gambling and Postcolonial Games of Risk in Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland


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· 5 ·


I dream’d in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the

attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;

I dream’d that was the new City of Friends

—Whitman qtd. in Netherland

Instead of the usual trope of 9/11 fiction, evidenced in novels like Saturday by British Ian McEwan or Terrorist by American John Updike, that, after a crisis, family is the ultimate model of support; by contrast, Netherland by Irish-Turkish Joseph O’Neill draws on sport enterprise and friendship as models for potential recuperation and reconciliation.1 Amongst various other countries, O’Neill grew up in the Netherlands, and now lives in New York City. This postcolonial novel explores bringing the colonial cricket pitch to New York, on which immigrants function as a performative example for revisioning the American globalized nation ideally acting in the world on the basis of transnational friendship.

The friendship Dutch Hans van den Broek proffers in retrospect on Trinidadian American Chuck Ramkissoon suggests the Derridean ethics of welcoming the stranger. According to Derrida, “absolute or unconditional hospitality” necessitates ← 91 | 92 →

I open up my home and that I give … to the absolute, unknown, anonymous other, and that I give place to them, that I let them come, that I let them arrive, and take place in the place I offer them, without asking of...

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