Names of the Dead

In the library, I found this book by Diane Schoemperlen. it is an elegy for the victims of 9/11. Written as a list of names and facts, obviously inspired by the O’brian short story, The things they carried. I’ve always been haunted by the image of people jumping from the towers, hand in hand. (I’m repeating myself.)

The following is a passage I found particularly moving…

Selina Sutter. Claudia Suzette Sutton.

Secrets. Of course his wife knew he was a window washer, but for years she thought he only washed the windows on the inside. he did nothing to correct this misconception. what good would it do to tell her that he actually operated the machines that inched up and down the outside of the towers? She would just worry herself sick. What good would it do to tell her that several times a year he and his partner went up and manually washed the highest windows that the machines couldn’t do? She wouldn’t let him go to work if she knew. She would never believe that she was perfectly safe up there, harnessed into his little dangline bucket thirteen hundred feet above the street. He had no sense of fear and he knew she would never understand how much he loved it.

John Francis Swaine. Brother in law of John Armand Reo, also killed….

On Saturday afternoon he liked nothing better than to take a trip to Home Depot. Sometimeshis wife went with him, but in truth he preferred to go alone because she always got impatient, sharing neither his devotion to the religion of DIY nor his enthusiasm for every single offering in this vast temple of home improvement. Alone, he could spend all afternoon studying the plumbing fixtures, the paintbrushed, the spools of cotter wire, the brass and glass doorknobs, the ceramic tiles, and the weather-stripping. He fairly genuflected in front of the power tools and and often came home with something he hadn’t known he needed (a palm sander, a miter box, a staple gun, a laser level, a jigsaw) but was now absolutely certain he could not live without.


Filed under literature, Musings

3 responses to “Names of the Dead

  1. This is absolutely riveting–thank you for bringing it to my attention! I will be picking this story up soon.

    And I too, will always have that image of people jumping from the towers. How was that act an “escape?” Yet it was, such was the hell inside the buildings.

  2. which book is this, btw? I looked up Diane Schoemperlen on Amazon and can’t figure out which one to buy! 🙂

  3. Here is a link to the amazon posting for this book.

    I am glad that it caught you as much as it caught me!

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