‘A Perfect Choreography of Ruination’: Resisting Tragedy in The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky: A True Story (2006)

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In his account of the aftermath of the Lockerbie tragedy, Ken Dornstein combines autobiographical and biographical narration in order to articulate his grief for the brother, would-be writer and victim of terrorism, who otherwise is lost to him. This exploration of Dornstein’s memoir traces the vicissitudes of this long process, marked out, in particular, by Dornstein’s movement from melancholia to mourning and his eventual separation of self from other. In addition to the psycho-drama the memoir depicts, Dornstein is attuned to question of how writing enables creation and negation of the subject. He, like his brother before him, struggles with the written word and its many possibilities. Eventually, Dornstein is able to develop the textual strategies which allow for a complex articulation of his experience. The many ways in which identity, mourning and writing are brought together in his narrative are, in turn, the focus of this essay.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-45
Number of pages13
JournalProse Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2015


  • terrorism, mourning, fraternity, trauma

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