Up in the Air

Thoughts by Walter Kirn, Anchor 2002 (orig 2001), 320 pages

Challenge: 20 Books of Summer, Book to Movie, What’s in a Name: Reference to Outer Space Category

Genre/Theme: Air Travel – Road Warrior Lifestyle, Contemporary Lit

Type/Source: Paperback

What It’s About: Road Warrior Ryan is one week away with many flights scheduled to hit his one millionth mile on a specific airline’s mileage reward plan. He hates his job – which is delivering “empathetic terminations”, is paranoid about said job’s managers trying to take away his goodies, is also paranoid that the airline is conspiring to thwart his achievement, and along the way gets entangled with helping his family marry off little sister, publish a book, get a new job, and find true love. Scratch that last thing. But he certainly has dalliances in ‘every port’.

George Clooney played the character Road Warrior Ryan in the movie. I can’t wait to see it again.

(They did change up the script some. Where in the book, Ryan talks to the read; in the movie, he is saddled with a trainee, played by Anna Kendrick. Which I discovered by watching the movie trailer yesterday. I barely remember the film. I do remember Clooney.)

“Pi’s just a number,“ I say.“

Thoughts: This book broke my reading slump. This book amused me since I work in HR now. This book amused me because I have more than once in the past been a “victim of down-sizing”. I have followed a lot of the sales-pep and motivation industry. So much was relatable. And it has a cleverness.

I started reading his book on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade towers all over the news. Kirn first published this in July 2001 – before what we think of as when air travel was forever altered. Thinking this, I was startled that so much about air travel in this book was relevant and not quite outdated, so I have to say. I like reading books about other times because we always tend to think NOW is so New & Different from BACK THEN and so much really is really still all the same.

 “The magic works, almost all of it, to some degree, and that’s what the skeptics find so intolerable.”

The ending of this book brings so much together that it is almost anti-climatic. And yet, the sympathy get turned up high after thinking that Ryan is a pretty shallow dude. He’s hurting and dealing with things in the only way he knows how. We are all hurting.

Rating: Four slices of pie.

“Once I cooked a Christmas feast in one, serving glazed ham and sweet potato pie to a dozen janitors and maids.”.


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