Crystal's Reviews > Up in the Air

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn
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's review
Aug 10, 2010

liked it

Like most, I'm assuming, I have both read and watched the movie adaptation of this story. They are two incredibly different experiences, and I'm surprised to find that I prefer the visual interpretation of Kirn's novel than the actual text. That's not to say, however, that I didn't enjoy this book, although I must assert that it's not for everyone. It's so subtly satirical and has several moments of brilliance. The protagonist (Ryan Bingham/George Clooney) is such a bitter and inwardly wizened character that you can't help but loathe and feel sorry for him at the same time. He begrudgingly allows us to tag along with him as he struggles to obtain his lofty goals of acquiring one million airline miles achieved by strategic manipulations of all the systems established to take advantage of our hopes and dreams. Bingham tries to prove that he's above their charms by being the one to outwit them instead of the other way around. It's an interesting metaphor for the deeper message I think the book tires to promote, which is so many of us try to find meaning in life, either through climbing the corporate latter or marrying the perfect man to show you're capable and worthy of creating the perfect family, that in the end we realize, often too late, that obtaining these goals doesn't change us in the least. We are who we are and that's it, but to acknowledge this fact is unbearable. The movie touches this briefly but has more of a traditional arc thus providing a more comfortable (or rather familiar) ride.
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