False Magic Kingdom is a 9/11 novel without ever mentioning 9/11 at all. The hints are there, so it´s obvious what the topic is about. From the cover artwork via False Magic Kingdom to Bad Alchemy to Your Cities, Your Tombs, to a man sitting in a plane treasuring his silence over his loud neighbours, to some officials sitting in a secure building somewhere transcriping a never endling list of texts to buildings described in a movie or in a dream/nightmare as suicide bombers, and more of the same, or similar.
It is not a novel in itself, but rather a loosely interconnected series of thoughts, ideas and existentialist dreamlike events happening shortly before everything goes down to hell full of biblical and personal nightmares.
Those established and mainstream ideas of a novel with a clear beginning, middle part, end, a plot, or even characters as such are abandoned in favor of a more free falling state of mind. What connects some of those "stories" (I use this term loosely now) is solely that those people are at the same time in the same place even no city, no place is ever named. A stream of consciousness narrative style, often told in first person but from different people which offers no explanations or straight forward conclusions. There is no plot in the strict sense, but a series of feelings and emotions mostly, but with recurring points of buildings collapsing or suicides. Personal loss, mental illness and urban destruction becomes one and the same, becomes part of each other which cannot live, cannot die without the other.
A husband coming home from work finding his wife stocking cans, a young boy reading from a book in front of his peers in class and getting laughed at, or a woman being in a hotel and thinking about her father committing suicide by jumping from a hotel window.
The only real glue that holds everything together is the constant anxiety and lack of control that surrounds their doings and their lives, which makes False Magic Kingdom incredibly intense and hard to read, despite being a rather short book and being book one in a larger context. It is painful since the emotions it evokes are strong, and I had to walk away more than once.
At best of times it gets into a meta-narrative when the book references to itself as a work-in-progress. When lines previously written are used in a different context within the book, and the book currently being written has the same title as the book I have right now in front of me. Occasionally Jordan Krall slips in some more bizarro/horror-ifying writing - for which he is better known anyway -, like the story about the king and his throne. Honestly I have no idea what this one is all about, except it feels Shakespearian in its majestic prose, but a metaphor for what? It could become at times incredibly confusing when looking for a bigger picture, for something, anything that reveals more of an overall story.
A surreal and abstract story/stories for those who have been there at an event so devastating that it affects us all, still does and defines our century maybe more than anything else. And certainly it is a very personal book for Jordan Krall as he writes in False Magic Kingdom, "this is a story I needed to tell. Whether or not I succeeded is a moot point", but what it is not is a political book. Krall doesn´t sit judgement, he doesn´t describe what happened in those moments before or during or after the towers came crushing down to the ground, but breaks off just right in front of it. Which is maybe the strongest point of the book since the imagined horror - real as it was - is way more horrible than any detailed descriptions can ever do to one´s mind.