By Marian Fontana
Marian Fontana might appreciate the tragic irony that it was the death of her husband, a fire-fighter, that allowed her to show her strength as a storyteller. A comedienne and playwright, she brings a screenwriter’s sensibility to her account of the year that follows Sept. 11, 2001—a day when she felt “the ventricles of [her] heart start to pulse, popping and ripping, exploding in [her] chest” as she watched the World Trade Center’s South Tower collapse with her husband, Dave, inside. The author’s passionate, irreverent persona comes through on every page: She recounts her work lobbying the city on behalf of firemen’s families, but she also deflates hypocrites, calls the bluff of a teacher who ignores her grieving son, smokes too much and cracks jokes about a tacky memorial service. Her book has the addictive appeal of a smartly paced novel, and readers will close it wanting more.