Dear American Airlines

By Jonathan Miles
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547237909, 192pp.)

Publication Date: June 2009

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Compact Disc, Audio Cassette, Compact Disc, MP3 CD

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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


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 International 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. Bennie’s writing is infused with a sense of remorse 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, 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.

About the Author

JONATHAN MILES is the cocktails columnist for the New York Times. His journalism, essays, and literary criticism have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times Book Review, GQ, the New York Observer, and the Oxford American. A former longtime resident of Oxford, Mississippi, he lives in New York.

Conversation Starters from


  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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