Kate's Reviews > Up in the Air

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn
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May 25, 2011

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Read in May, 2011

I watched and enjoyed the movie version of this story. Ryan Bingham--in the movie--was a frustrated businessman trying to navigate Airworld and Real World. He experienced joy, pain, and had the ability to grow and change. He is able to find context and meaning from his interactions with other people. He falls in love and finds out that it wasn't real. His character has an arc.

Ryan Bingham in Walter Kirn's book has no arc, only the downward trajectory of a crashing Boeing 747. His character spirals downward without pausing to learn from the world around him. He writes off the women in his life as unknowable, insane creatures, with whom he will never connect.

However, there were a few elements in Kirn's novel I enjoyed (and found absent from the movie.)

- The influence of the Mormon Church on Ryan and Ryan's family. Kirn slyly hints at how easily and thoroughly the LDS have influenced the culture of Utah, how this omnipresent church affects the devout and non-devout people within it's gravitational pull.

- His family in Minnesota. It's interesting to see how his very Midwestern upbringing affects Ryan's adult life.
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