I avoid most books and movies about 9/11. Some, like Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children, have made me extremely angry, trivializing the event by making it a cheap plot device (I hated that book). Others, like Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I've found very moving.
This is from Delillo's Falling Man (I can feel Eric at My Heart's Porch cringing now, but we share a love of Uncle Cormac, so I forgive him). Not a great book, but a good one. In its best moments he describes 9/11 with precision and grace, detachment and beauty. This is from the beginning of the book:
"It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night. He was walking north through rubble and mud and there were people running past holding towels to their faces or jackets over their heads. They had handkerchiefs pressed to their mouths. They had shoes in their hands, a woman with a shoe in each hand, running past him. They ran and fell, some of them, confused and ungainly, with debris coming down around them, and there were people taking shelter under cars.
The roar was still in the air, the buckling rumble of the fall. This was the world now. Smoke and ash came rolling down streets and turning corners, busting around corners, seismic tides of smoke, with office paper flashing past, standard sheets with cutting edge, skimming, whipping past, otherworldly things in the morning pall.
He wore a suit and carried a briefcase. There was glass in his hair and face, marbled bolls of blood and light. He walked past a Breakfast Special sign and they went running by, city cops and security guards running, hands pressed down on gun butts to keep the weapons steady.
Things inside were distant and still, where he was supposed to be. It happened everywhere around him, a car half buried in debris, windows smashed and noises coming out, radio voices scratching at the wreckage. He saw people shedding water as they ran, clothes and bodies drenched from sprinkler systems. There were shoes discarded in the street, handbags and laptops, a man seated on the sidewalk coughing up blood. Paper cups went bouncing oddly by.
The world was this as well, figures in windows a thousand feet up, dropping into free space, and the stink of fuel fire, and the steady rip of sirens in the air. The noise lay everywhere they ran, stratified sound collecting around them, and he walked away from it and into it at the same time."
My favorite line is "Paper cups went bouncing oddly by." Such an unexpected image.