Dear American Airlines

By Jonathan Miles
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547237909, 180pp.)

Publication Date: June 2009

List Price: $13.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Fall '09/Winter '10 Reading Group List
“Estranged from his only daughter for some 20 years, Benjamin R. Ford is overjoyed when he receives an invitation to her West Coast nuptials. However, in transit to the happy event, American Airlines strands him in the purgatory of Chicago's O'Hare. Vexed by this development, Ben spends his time composing a ferocious letter of complaint to the air carrier. In the course of this missive, readers come to learn of his life, loves, and -- oddly enough -- the world of translated literature. While Benjamin Ford might remain earthbound, author Jonathan Miles definitely soars in this frantic and funny debut!”
-- Joe Drabyak, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA


Description
Sometimes the planes don t fly on time.
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 lament for a life gone awry, for years misspent, talent wasted, and happiness lost. A man both sinned against and sinning, Bennie writes in a voice that is a marvel of lacerating wit, heart-on-sleeve emotion, and wide-ranging erudition, underlined by a consistent groundnote of regret for the actions of a lifetime -- and made all the more urgent by the fading hope that if he can 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 major new talent in American fiction.



About the Author
Jonathan Miles left home at seventeen, intent on a life in music, but when he landed in Oxford, Mississippi, he traded in the blues for writing. Having learned the art of fiction and of living from Barry Hannah and the late Larry Brown, Miles has worked as a blues researcher, bartender, gardener, and journalist, covering everything from the death of Faulkner's bootlegger to the theory and practice of bar fights to the Dakar Rally in Africa. Now the cocktails columnist for the New York Times and books columnist for Men's Journal, Miles's work has appeared, among other places, in GQ, the Oxford American, the New York Observer, and the New York Times Book Review.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. Bennie addresses his letter to American Airlines as though the large corporation were an individual. Identify the ways in which Bennie seeks to draw comparisons between himself and American Airlines. How else does he attempt to put a more human face on the recipient of his lament?

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