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Sunday Salon: “That Day in September”

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Before I left for my August travels, an author named Artie Van Why contacted me to see if I’d like to read his short memoir, That Day in September. Unsure of how much reading I would get done during my trip, I was reluctant to commit to another book, but I loaded it onto my Sony Reader anyway. Sitting in the airport on my way home, I read the book’s 50-some pages in one go, unwilling to break it’s spell. Today, as we remember the tragedy that occurred ten years ago today in New York City and the many lives that were lost, I want to share that book with you.

That Day in September by Artie Van Why (cover)

We all remember where we were when we first heard the news that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I had just started college and was sitting in my dorm room, watching the news unfold on my roommate’s tiny TV, my class-ready bag forgotten by my desk. I was lucky enough not to know anyone who was directly involved in the tragedy, but some of my new friends did, and the mood over campus, just a few weeks into my freshman year, was devastated.

Artie Van Why was at work, just across from the towers, when the planes hit. His short memoir, That Day in September, traces how he came to live in New York and work near the towers, his own experience of September 11, 2001, and his recollections of the days that followed. It is a brief but beautiful personal story, one man’s struggle to process and deal with a national tragedy, yet it feels universal. Van Why’s candid prose bring the reader to him, so that I felt his story as my own. In the couple of hours I spent with That Day in September, I lost count of the number of times tears came to my eyes. I’m so glad the author somehow got his story into my hands.

However you spend today, I leave you with these final lines of That Day in September:

“No, I will not forget what I lived through, what we all lived through, that day in September.
“And to honor those who are gone, I will not forget to live.”

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  • http://vishytheknight.wordpress.com Vishy

    Nice review, Erin. I remember that day when I came back home from work and my roommates asked me to come and watch the news on TV and it was surreal to see the images which were being flashed. Glad to know that you enjoyed this book and nice to know that it is an affirmation of life – I loved the last lines from the book that you have quoted.

    • Erin

      Thanks for sharing your memories of 9/11, Vishy. Even though I’m only replying now (it’s been a busy week), I read your comment on Sunday and was glad to share the day a little with someone else. That Day in September was very much an affirmation of life, and the perfect book for me to have read so close to the 10-year anniversary.

  • http://www.readingonarainydy.com/ Aths

    What a beautiful book! I had just started my final year of high school in India, and it was all happening during prime time evening news out there. I was just thinking about that day all over today and feeling terribly sad. Those are beautiful lines.

    • Erin

      I’m happy you shared your memory of that day, Aths. Even though I’m only now replying (sorry — busy week), I read your comment on 9/11 and really appreciated it. That Day in September was perfect for me to have read so near the anniversary.

  • http://sophisticateddorkiness.com Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

    Those are lovely last lines. I had an offer for this book, but I wasn’t sure it was something I could quite read. I’m glad it worked for you.

    • Erin

      I was a little worried about that, too, but ended up being glad I accepted it. It’s such a personal topic, though, and one that can be hard to read about, so I completely understand your reluctance.

  • http://booksnyc.blogspot.com Colleen

    ” . . . not forget to live” – a very important reminder on this day 10 years later.

    • Erin

      I thought it was a perfect note to end the book on and to remember as often as I can.

  • http://www.bostonbibliophile.com Marie

    Beautiful! I hope you had a wonderful day.

    • Erin

      I hope you did as well, Marie :-)

  • http://bibliophilebythesea.blogspot.com/ Diane@BibliophileBytheSea

    Erin, sounds like a terrific book.

    I am watching the 9/11 anniversary shows as I catch up with blogs tonight; very sad. Have a good week.

    • Erin

      Thanks, Diane, I hope you’re having a great week, too.

  • http://stacybuckeye.wordpress.com/ stacybuckeye

    Those closing lines brought tears to my eyes and yet are very inspirational. Great review!

    • Erin

      It was that kind of book — many teary moments. I’m glad it spoke to you, too.