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The Smoke Week: Sept. 11-21, 2001 Paperback – October 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Gival Press, LLC; First Edition edition (October 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1928589243
  • ISBN-13: 978-1928589242
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 5.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,730,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...goes right to the heart of what the living do and shows us a world..." [of healing]. -- Jacqueline Woodson, author of Hush

"Her account is more intimate and real than any other I have come across." -- Robert Canzoneri, author of A Highly Ramified Tree

"Here is Witness. Here is Testimony." -- Maxine Hong Kingston

About the Author

Ellis Avery's work has appeared in The Village Voice, Lieu, and The Mid-America Poetry Review.

More About the Author

Ellis Avery studied Japanese tea ceremony for five years in New York and Kyoto, and now teaches creative writing at Columbia University. She is the author of a novel, THE TEAHOUSE FIRE, and an award-winning nonfiction book, THE SMOKE WEEK: SEPTEMBER 11-21, 2001. Her work as appeared in The Village Voice, Publishers Weekly, and Kyoto Journal, and produced onstage at New York's Expanded Arts Theater.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
Two years after September 11th 2001 it has become difficult for many of us to remember what those days felt like. Even at the time the media were busy selecting what we would see, hear, and know. The emphasis at the time was on those who died and those who lost family members and friends to death. The vociferous antiwar sentiment among so many New Yorkers never made it to TV or major newspapers. Since then the whole event has been swallowed up in the political narratives we tell about what followed.
Ellis Avery's THE SMOKE WEEK is an incredibly immediate account of some ordinary New Yorkers grappling with the WTC attacks and their aftermath. The book describes the smells and sounds of a city filled with death and destruction, how people struggle to make sense of an unprecedented experience, their painful return to some normalcy, their confusion about how the US should respond.
Told almost completely without hindsight, the book grabs us with its poetry. It delivers concrete experience, sensation, perception. Avery doesn't explain, predict or preach: she bears witness using images and metaphors of great power and beauty.
This is a beautiful and moving account of ugly times. I've noticed that people who make each other's acquaintance for the first time post-9/11/01 soon need to trade stories of where they were that day. It seems that we still need to return to that day and understand it from an individual point of view. This book is a chance to read one person's story -- a representative story, but told with unique grace. If you can bear to read only one book about September 11th, read this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you are contemplating this book with heavy heart and jaundiced eye, thinking, Yeah right, yet another crass attempt to capitalize on one of the grimmest moments in our history - think again. This is a book to read if you are more interested in testimonial than posturing, and more interested in commemoration than remembering. What I mean is, "remembering" was sold to us by the media as a nightmarish repetition of the events of 9/11, as if looking at those images over and over again could make us understand what happened. Well, of course it didn't, and that's not, mercifully, what Avery offers here. Instead she fixes memory, roots it in place through her exacting account of a city's efforts to reconstitute itself in the wake of disaster. And reconstitution in Avery's New York does not mean pretending that everything will be fine, that everything can go back to the way it was. It means waking up to the fact that even the most apparently insignificant action can be all that stands between despair and courage, between isolation and connection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mandla khumalo on December 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book slowly: it was too compelling to not want to read, too beautiful to stop and too hard to read in one swallow. It is personal and intimate. But it gives a much deeper appreciation of not only one woman's experience of that trauma, but also what the nation must have felt. I recommend it to anyone who wants a personal account of that time. Something much deeper, more heartfelt and ultimately more sane and thoughtful than any kind of "war on terror" reactionary work that might be out there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ellis Avery's The Smoke Week is an extraordinary book. By turns telegraphic, conversational, intimate, and lyrical -- even, around the edges, a little funny -- she writes of the first hours and days after the destruction of the World Trade Center with an attention to detail and a refusal of cliché that puts most other accounts of those days to shame. It's as though, right there downtown with disaster coming on, she began to observe as carefully and compassionately as she possibly could, to keep herself sane -- and the fine sentences here, the precisely rendered stories, are the result.
I see a bumper sticker sometimes in San Francisco: STAY HUMAN. The pressure, nowadays, in the jingoistic frenzy of the so-called "war on terror," is to become something else, "patriots" or "dissidents," or some other super-charged category. But Avery's book is a reminder that, on September 11, 2001, the people in downtown New York weren't just "America Under Attack," or some other hollow slogan; her prose makes you see something like the human experience of that day. That's no small achievement; and I can't recommend this book enough.
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