It has become a commonplace that 9/11 was so uniquely traumatic that language cannot even begin to describe it. “I have nothing to say,” Toni Morrison famously said in her 2001 poem “The Dead of September 11” (48). She claimed to have “no words stronger than the steel that pressed you into itself,” addressing the dead directly, making them the ghostly audience for her self-effacing words even as she gave the deadly metal of the collapsing towers an uncanny agency. In their paradoxicality, Morrison's remarks are symptomatic of post-9/11 literature more generally. They are so first for their self-consciousness about the inadequacy of words to do justice to the event and trauma that 9/11 was while nevertheless attempting to address and memorialize it in language. Second, they suggest a breakdown of standard categories of experience: here it is the metal...

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