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Book summary and reviews of Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Dear American Airlines

A Novel

by Jonathan Miles

  • Critics' Consensus:
  • Published:
  • Jun 2008
    192 pages
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About this book

Book Summary

From the cocktails columnist of the New York Times, the scathingly funny, deeply moving story of a stranded passenger whose enraged letter of complaint transforms into a lament for a life gone awry.

Bennie Ford, a fifty-three-year-old failed poet turned translator, is traveling to his estranged daughter's wedding when his flight is canceled. Stuck with thousands of fuming passengers in the purgatory of O'Hare Airport, he watches the clock tick and realizes that he will miss the ceremony. Frustrated, irate, and helpless, Bennie does the only thing he can: he starts to write a letter. But what begins as a hilariously excoriating demand for a refund soon becomes a cri de coeur of a life misspent, talent wasted, opportunities botched, and happiness lost. A man both sinned against and sinning, Bennie pens his letter in a voice that is a marvel of lacerating wit directed at himself and at others, heart-on-sleeve emotion, and wide-ranging erudition, underlined by a consistent groundnote of regret for the actions of a lifetime—and all of it is propelled by the fading hope that if he could just make it to the wedding, he might have a chance to do something right.

A margarita blend of outrage, wicked humor, vulnerability, intelligence, and regret, Dear American Airlines gives new meaning to the term "airport novel" and announces the emergence of a major new talent in American fiction.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] fine first novel … I normally don't like narratives marinated in alcohol and self-pity, but here it works because Benjamin isn't macho about his drinking, and because the tragic details are grounded by brutal honesty and leavened by humor." - The New York Times, Richard Russo.

"By the time flights resume, Miles has masterfully taken Bennie from grim resignation to the dazzling exhilaration of the possible." - Publishers Weekly.

"This first novel is a tale of loss and regret that allows a hint of hope and forgiveness to beckon from the final pages. Recommended for general collections." - Library Journal.

"Bennie tells us more about his night and his life than most would ever want to learn." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Turn to nearly any page and you'll find a funny, smart, touching, wonderfully caustic or well-turned sentence or paragraph." - The Chicago Tribune.

"Dear American Airlines is a gimmick novel, which we approach with a certain suspension of disbelief ... Yet the concept works beautifully ... and this sense of play, of pushing the boundaries, resonates throughout the book." - The Los Angeles Times.

This information about Dear American Airlines was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Jonathan Miles Author Biography

Photo: Erica Larsen

Jonathan Miles is the author of the novels Dear American Airlines and Want Not, both New York Times Notable Books. His latest novel, Anatomy of a Miracle: The True* Story of a Paralyzed Veteran, a Mississippi Convenience Store, a Vatican Investigation, and the Spectacular Perils of Grace, is published by Crown/Hogarth.

Dear American Airlines was named a Best Book of 2008 by the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Amazon.com, and others. It was also a finalist for the QPB New Voices Award, the Borders Original Voices Award, and the Great Lakes Book Award, and has been translated into six languages.

Want Not was named a best or favorite book of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, bookish.com, bookriot.com, and ...

... Full Biography
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