On September 11th, 2001, exactly one hour before the first plane hit the World Trade Center, former Marine and highly decorated New York City Firefighter Tom Casatelli switched positions with his friend and mentor, Brian McAleese, on Engine Company 226. Neither man knew that when the Towers fell, Brian would pay for that small kindness with his life. And Casatelli, he’d pay for the rest of his.
With A Fine Gray Dust, Tom Casatelli is likely to emerge as the defining voice of his generation in the canon of 9/11 literature. Although many firsthand accounts of the tragedy, while emotionally resonant, are of limited literary merit, Casatelli’s writing is on par with the story he tells. He distills humanity from numbing pain, compassion from survivor’s guilt, and ultimately, the possibility of redemption from the indifference of horror.