Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Heliconia in Hawaii. I spent
a lot of time in gardens there.
Earlier this month, I selected a bunch of audiobooks to download to my iPod in preparation for two weeks in tropical Hawaii. First up was Jonathan Miles' debut novel, Dear American Airlines [Blackstone: 7 hr] performed by Mark Bramhall. It was perfect company for a day of solo travel spent in airports and planes.

"My name is Benjamin R. Ford and I am writing to request a refund in the amount of $362.98. But then, no, scratch that. Refund is too mincy polite, I think, too officious Britishy, a word that walks along the page with the ramrod straightness of someone trying to balance a walnut on his upper ass cheeks. Yet, what am I saying? Words don't have ass cheeks! Dear American Airlines, I am rather demanding a refund in the amount of $362.98. Demanding demanding demanding. In Italian, richiedere. Verlangen in German and ndeoan in the Russki tongue but you doubtless catch my drift."

Enroute from New York to his estranged daughter's lesbian wedding in Los Angeles, Benjamin gets stranded by a storm in the Chicago airport. All flights are cancelled and no hotel rooms are available. Through the night, his rant of a letter continues, revealing the story of his failed life as a husband and father.

Benjamin works as a translator of literary novels. He is a sympathetic character and very, very funny. Bramhall's performance nicely conveys Benjamin's shifting emotions, from bitterness and despair to introspection to hope. Time flew while I listened and flew. Fortunately, I suffered no airline mishaps of my own.

Readalikes: Worst. Person. Ever. (Douglas Coupland); The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (Jonathan Evison).

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