'War and Peace,' Interrupted

'War and Peace,' Interrupted

"How original," my sarcastic 12-year-old son Zack says, when I tell him that I'm writing about 9/11—and what it means for the kids who grew up in the shadow of that tragedy, the ensuing wars, the fear of terrorism.

I try to explain that sometimes "unoriginal" topics merit examination, forming as they do our shared cultural fabric.

He is skeptical. "Shared cultural fabric," he parrots; he's on a jag against "fancy" language. "If you say so." Still, he agrees to be interviewed on the topic, perching uncommitted on the very edge of the couch where I lie reading my way through "War and Peace," relaxing...