Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Review: Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Pages read so far in 2010: 9,796

The first and foremost comment I have to make about this novel is that I couldn't wait to finish it--and not because I enjoyed it. Because I wanted to be done with it and push it off to the side like I'd never seen it in the first place.

Honestly, the only reason I finished Dear American Airlines at all is that it is fairly short. Had it been 200 pages, or more, I would have given up halfway through. But I plowed on 'till the end, hoping this novel would redeem itself. It didn't.

Admittedly, I bought Dear American Airlines at a book sale, assuming that it really was a long complaint letter to American Airlines. I didn't notice the tiny words "A Novel" inserted beneath the giant title, and I was rushing through the sale with no time to read the blurb on the back cover. When I finally picked it up to read it and noticed that it was a novel, and I did read the blurb on the back cover, I thought "hey, this could still be good".

It wasn't. The writing, which other reviewers complained about, I could deal with. It was after all sort of supposed to be a "complaint letter to American Airlines", written at the spur of the moment, if you will. But the jumping back and forth in Bennie Ford's pathetic, whiny history and the absolutely pointless additions of the Polish translation blurbs were simply maddening. In the end, I was left hanging (spoiler alert: sure, he got on the plane, but what happened when he finally saw his ex and his daughter for the first time in decades???) and thinking that this novel wasn't worth my time or the $2 it cost me at the book sale. 1/5 stars.

"The right word matters...The wrong ones infect, spread disease. Words are everything."

"History, even scalding personal history, doesn't always transmit the expected lessons. Memory and meaning, I've found, often book separate rooms in the brain."

"How many metaphors have we...scooped from rivers? the end it's...some form of bathetic aspiration: for our lives to course as smoothly, shifted but never stopped, draining into some glorious & storied sea."

"'It was all crazy back then, and it's so hard for me to recognize myself in those memories that I just--just filed it all away and locked it and tossed the damn key. You know, it's funny, one therapist said that was the rigth approach while another said it was dead wrong. So who knows?'"

"'It's the inactions that keep you up at night. The actions, they're done. They're done. The inactions, they never go away. They just hang there.'"

"We all hope to be more than we are which is often the problem." Pin It

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