I have a file labeled “Sept. 11 – Various.” Within it are stacks of paper from major news sources, all related to the events of September 11, 2001.
Among them are two articles from The New Yorker; an entire issue of Time magazine; and whole sections of the New York Times, including the front page from Wednesday, September 12, 2001, the headline screaming:
HIJACKED JETS DESTROY TWIN TOWERS
AND HIT PENTAGON IN DAY OF TERROR
And of course there are a month’s worth of my journal notes, all attempting to describe my own experience of 9/11, starting with the day itself.
Here’s a brief excerpt:
“And the city of Chicago has been virtually closed down: all major universities, Water Tower Place, the Field Museum, Art Institute, General Cinemas, Terra Museum, 900 N. Michigan, all federal, state, and city buildings, the state capitol in Springfield, shopping malls in the suburbs, the Borders & Barnes & Noble stores on Diversey, the Sears Tower was the first, the Hancock Center, Mercantile Exchange etc. etc.”
But among all these papers, what I found especially moving was an essay by the writer A.M. Homes. It was from the Monday, September 24 edition of the New York Times, in a series the paper regularly ran called, “Writers on Writing.”
Much had been made in the days and weeks following the attacks about how the arts and entertainment media could even begin to respond to the horror of what had happened on that beautiful fall day in Manhattan.
Homes, as a writer, rises to that awful occasion in powerfully rendered—because so true and heartfelt—words and images.
Here's the essay in its entirety, "Seeing the Unimaginable Freezes the Imagination":