Wednesday, April 20, 2016

An American History Ch. 4: 9/11

The following is from a work-in-progress called An American History.  It's a novel.

If you could go back in a time machine, what would you change? This is a question humans have pondered for a long time.  If you asked me that when I was a younger man, I would probably talk about a girl who I liked in college who I never had the guts to ask out.  I would have wanted to go back and ask her out.

I conducted an informal poll of random Americans, and the most common answer to the question, "If you could go back in a time machine, what would you change?" is "9/11."   By this, they are referring of course to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11th, 2001.  When I ask them how they would change things, their answers vary.  Some would call the White House, or major airlines, and warn them. Others would call the victims and tell them not to board the planes.  Still others would board the planes and physically beat the shit out of the terrorists.  Would any of these things have worked?  It's an interesting metaphysical question.

I too would like to go back to 9/11, but I would like to go back to September 11th, 2008, because that was the day before my favorite writer, David Foster Wallace, hanged himself.  I would like to go back and tell him how much he changed my life, saved it even. And even if I couldn't stop him from offing himself, I could at least tell him what he meant to me.

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