Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


THE WOMAN WHO WASN'T THERE: The True Story of an Incredible Deception. Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr. Touchstone/Simon and Schuster; 2012.

NOTE: This book is based on the documentary of the same name.

Tania Head, who lost her husband and nearly lost her arm, in the 9//11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, joined a group of survivors who felt isolated after their horrific experiences. The dead were honored, as were their grieving loved ones, but these survivors were suffering terrible emotional and sometimes physical trauma and still felt left out of the loop. They were often afraid to speak up because they were, after all, alive when so many others died, and felt survivor guilt on top of everything else. Tania had a particularly horrifying and poignant story, and when she joined the group she did a lot to make it more of a viable organization. But how come some details in her story didn't add up? Why did she spearhead internecine movements to throw certain people out of the group, stripping them of a desperately needed lifeline? Why did she refuse to answer basic verifiable questions for a reporter from the New York Times? Could it be possible, as inconceivable as it sounded, that she wasn't in the Towers on 9/11? This well-written book [one of the co-authors did a documentary film on Head and the Survivors] pulls one along --  as it illuminates the struggles of traumatized survivors to function in a post-9/11 world, it also tells an incredible story of an elaborate and indefensible hoax. You might wonder if this person is even worth the attention [no] -- although she obviously wants it -- but it's still a compelling true story, and the book does give insight into the terrible things that happened inside the Towers that awful day, and the horrifying things witnessed by survivors who can never forget what they saw and experienced.

Verdict: You'll read it in one sitting. ***.

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