Schnaucl's Reviews > Dear American Airlines

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan  Miles
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's review
Aug 24, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: august, fiction, library, read_2009
Read in August, 2009 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** It was an interesting book. Benny's flight is canceled due to non-existent bad weather, so he's stranded in an airport overnight. Frustrated at the delay and the transparently false explanation for the delay, he starts to write a letter of complaint to American Airlines, demanding a refund.

What starts as a diatribe against lousy service turns into a confessional letter about all the things that Benny has done wrong with his life. The flight that was canceled was supposed to take him to his daughter's wedding (or as he calls it "wedding" since his daughter is marrying another woman). He hasn't seen his daughter in person since shortly after she was born (he received one photo of her from high school).

He'd only known Stella Sr. (his daughter's mother) for a few months when she accidentally got pregnant. They didn't last long after Stella Jr. (a.k.a Speck) was born. Benny was already an alcoholic and very self-absorbed but then, Stella Sr. was pretty self-absorbed, too.

The narrative wanders back and forth in the past, with occasional brief stops in the present where Benny either talks about what's currently going on or translates a bit of a book he's working on (he is employed as a translator of literature).

He talks a lot about being an alcoholic and a poet who was only briefly successful. There's also a lot about his mother, an artist who suffers from bipolar disorder (disease?)

He's come to view attending this wedding and maybe walking his daughter down the aisle (it was sort of contingent on meeting at the rehearsal dinner beforehand, something he will now miss) as a chance to begin atoning for being a bad husband, father, and, in his eyes, all around human being.

I like that the ending is ambiguous. It made the book seem that much more real.

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