Today marks the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, which is slightly less significant than than the tenth anniversary, but still significant in a “holy-shit-it’s-been-thismany-years” kind of way—which is often the only way I really grapple with 9/11 as an event. It’s so clear to me just how much of my youth, my life, my political consciousness, has been shaped by September 11: it often seems that every shade of culture I choose to color my life with has either been radically reformed by or is a direct response to that singular event.
As a longform junkie, it should come as no surprise that I think it’s narrative non-ficiton that has best captured the meaning and weight of that day. And although so much of the current political landscape has been largely defined by 9/11, the most haunting, all-consuming bits exist on a far smaller scale. Crumbled pieces of paper; emotionally distant husbands; the nameless star of a photograph. Those stories are the ones worth telling; the ethics worth questioning. Those stories are the ones worth grappling with.
One of the most recent pieces circulating involves a note dropped from the 84th floor of the second tower, and the way it alters a family’s entire narrative when it finally reaches them ten years later. Another highlights the intersection of 9/11 and money, and who exactly is profiting most from the disaster.
Scott Raab has been chronicling the rebuilding process of the World Trade Center since plans went underway in 2005, all of which are worth reading. But it’s his seventh piece, published on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, that really captures the tangible metaphor of the noise, the second-starts and the grief that comes with the opening of the memorial.
Possibly my favorite of the bunch is the New York Times Sunday Magazine feature that untangles the complex affairs of two 9/11 widows: one whose husband was lost in the towers, and the other whose husband might as well have been.
And perhaps the most famous and fascinating of any 9/11 piece published anywhere: Tom Junod’s feature for Esquire, “The Falling Man,” which dissects and discusses the subjective and contextual limitiations of what’s been called “perhaps the most powerful image of despair at the beginning of the twenty-first century.”
Also: for more of Jason E. Powell’s briliant 9/11 remembrance photography (above), click here.