Arts Martin Amis and Mohamed Atta
It’s appropriate that responses to Sept. 11 from filmmakers and writers are proliferating during the unbelievably weird trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who doubtless will spawn some kind of takeoff himself.
The latest comes from Martin Amis, whose new book, coming out in the fall, imagines The Last Days of Mohamed Atta in a short story:
As explained by his publisher, Jonathan Cape, the tale can be summarised like this: “Accompanied by one of the ‘muscle’ Saudis, Mohamed Atta drove to Portland, Maine, on 10 September 2001. Noone knows why. In ‘The Last Days of Mohamed Atta’, Martin Amis provides a rationale for Atta’s insouciant detour, and for other lacunae in the ‘planes operation’. We follow Atta on that day: from his small-hour awakening in the budget hotel room in Portland, all the way to 8:46am - and beyond.”
Also in the book, which is titled House of Meetings after the novella that opens it, is a short story called In the Palace of the End:
“In the Palace of the End” is narrated by one of the doubles for a Middle Eastern tyrant - clearly a figure such as Saddam Hussein or his demented son and heir, Uday.
“The double divides his day between epic torture and epic lovemaking with picked beauties - all of it filmed for the delectation of the dictator,” according to the publisher’s blurb.
It continues: “He also has a third obligation: he must duplicate on his person the wounds sustained by the dictator in the almost-daily attempts on his life.”
Rumours have long circulated in the Middle East that Saddam Hussein, the now deposed Iraqi dictator, did, indeed, have up to four doubles, though none has ever surfaced.