There is a fireplace in the apartment where I live. On 11 September, I was at home waiting for the man to come and sweep the chimney, some time between nine and twelve. Around nine o'clock, my cellphone rang; half-asleep I answered it. It was the chimney-sweep's office calling to tell me that he wouldn't be coming because of a crash. I assumed they meant a car crash, rolled over, and went back to sleep. Ten minutes later, the phone rang again. It was my mother calling to check that I was OK because two planes had just flown into the World Trade Center. I assured her that I wasn't in a plane but in bed asleep and that I would call her the next day when my land line was due to be installed. I tried to go back to sleep but there were sirens outside my window. I turned on the radio and tuned it to the New York news station. The announcer was saying that two planes had flown into the World Trade Center, that the Twin Towers were burning and that it was rumoured that one of the planes was a commercial jetliner. He told us that at any moment President Bush would be making a statement. I lay in bed waiting for the statement. Bush said that there had been an apparent act of terrorism. He may have said more. The only other thing I remember him saying was 'God bless America.'
LRB 4 October 2001 | PDF Download