Dear American Airlines
By Jonathan Miles
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547237909, 192pp.)
Publication Date: June 2009
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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 lifetimeand 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.
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.
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?