By fluke or design, novels that address the attacks of Sept. 11 are suddenly popping up on bookshelves, three years after the fact. Naturally, this sudden deluge has given rise to all sorts of worried and contradictory questions: What took so long? Has it really been long enough? Can fiction redress the wounds of that day? Are we ready to even try? Is it even possible to write a novel about 9/11 that is actually good?
The answer, at least to the last question, is yes. The three heavyweight titles in the arena this season -- Ian McEwan's "Saturday," Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and Frederic Beigbeder's "Windows on the World" -- entertained us, made us cry, and brought us a little closer to an emotional reckoning with the day the twin towers fell.