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Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

Up in the Air (2001)

by Walter Kirn

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Prose-wise it's a masterpiece. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
Read by Sean Runnette. I saw the movie before being intrigued enough to want to listen to the book. The book is way different! Ryan's story meanders and unfolds as he heads towards his million-miles goal, meeting old and new colleagues along his travels. In the book, Ryan is weary and jaded, somewhat rootless except for his goal of publishing a book and getting hired on at Myth Tech (spelling??). No great tension or climax, just a traveling businessman going along doing his thing. The abrupt ending and revelation was odd. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Up in the Air by Walter Kirn; (3 1/2*)

This is a fun book about traveling. At least it starts that way. If you fly on commercial airlines a lot you'll love the main character's flying habits. The book has some laughs. But it seems to wander. The main character is quite a character. I'm not sure, however, what the book is actually telling the reader. Perhaps I am not flight nor corporate America savy enough for this one.
I did find it to be funny and yet sad at the same time. Businessmen who spend so much time in the air only have time for fleeting relationships but business is everything to them. It's an interesting look at the behind the scenes living in airports and cities that business persons fly into.
For our protagonist the airports and airplanes feel more like home than his sterile home. He finds life on the ground chaotic and steers away from personal relationships.
Officially Ryan Bingham, the philosophizing antihero of Kirn's witty and deftly written satire, resides in Denver. There he works as a career transition counselor. In layman's words he fires people for a business management company. But like I said his true residency is the first class cabin of an airplane and the hotel suites and chain restaurants. This is where he is most at home. His hometown newspapers are USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. The climate is always temperate and the currency is frequent flier miles. Bingham's free thoughts usually focus on his ambition of reaching the magical million mile number.
It is an interesting but not fascinating read. ( )
  rainpebble | Sep 13, 2015 |
Rollicking satire of the business world that reads like a combination of Don DeLillo and Chuck Palahniuk. Entertaining, well-written, and with more edge than the movie adaptation. ( )
  giovannigf | Apr 29, 2014 |
I loved the movie, so I decided to read the book. The first part was amazing, the writing just oozing with greatness and perfection. The middle lagged but was still okay. But the last part, oh the last part. I don't know if the author just ran out of ideas or kind of gave up on it, but it was just bad. The last twenty pages or so were very confusing, making me wonder if I was still holding the same book that I'd started out with.

The ending though was the worst part, just a complete disappointment. But nonetheless, I still respect the novel for the great movie that came out of it. At least the screenwriter had a better imagination and world view. ( )
  Alexander19 | Oct 28, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Kirn’s prose is splendid, his observations droll and intelligent, his evocations of Airworld pitch-perfect. If only his ambitions did more than snugly fit his grasp. A mild treat from a stubbornly minor novelist still marking literary time somewhere between Don DeLillo and the authors of those fluffy confections readers inhale on summer beaches—or in airports.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 15, 2011)
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To know me, you have to fly with me.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307476286, Paperback)

The hero of Walter Kirn's novel Up in the Air inhabits an entirely new state: Airworld, where the hometown paper is USA Today, the indigenous cuisine wilts under heat lamps, and the citizenry speaks a Byzantine dialect of upgrades, expense accounts, and market share. Airworld even has its own nontaxable, inflation-free currency in the shape of bonus miles, which Ryan Bingham calls "private property in its purest form." Officially, Bingham is a management consultant, specializing in the lugubrious field of career transition counseling (i.e., he fires people for a living). But what Kirn's airborne protagonist is really doing is pursuing his own private passion, his great white whale: accumulating one million miles in his frequent-flyer account. As Up in the Air opens, Bingham has set out on a final, epic traveling jag. He intends to visit eight cities in six days, thereby achieving his own vision of Nirvana somewhere over Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Mocking the euphemisms of business speak is as easy as shooting fish in a designer barrel. But Kirn also takes on the corporate world's weirdly mystical and paranoid side, its rhetoric of personal empowerment and its messianic devotion to gurus. "Business is folk wisdom, cave-born, dark, Masonic, and the best consultants are outright shamans who sprinkle on the science like so much fairy dust," declares Bingham. (This doesn't stop him from working on his own book about "the transformational journey of one mind wholly at peace with its core competencies.") Meanwhile, his junket becomes progressively more surreal, complete with an evil nemesis as well as a mysteriously powerful firm called MythTech that's working behind the scenes. And what's worse, someone seems to have stolen his identity, assuming control of his credit cards and his all-important miles.

Is this model consumer being tracked as he makes his purchasing decisions, like an elk tagged by wildlife biologists? Or is he merely losing his mind? The ending answers these questions perhaps a little too neatly, but Kirn's disturbing satire packs a mighty wallop nonetheless. The writing is as sharp as a tack, punctuated by character sketches as brilliant as they are quick. Bingham and his ilk are modern nomads, dispossessed of physicality but not quite of their bodies. His simulated environment is not mimicking an actual place but replacing it--and that, to the author, is the scariest part of Airworld: "This is the place to see America, not down there, where the show is almost over." --Mary Park

Up in the Air is now a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Jason Bateman, and Anna Kendrick, and directed by Jason Reitman. Enjoy these images from the film, and click the thumbnails to see larger images.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A traveling management consultant who is called in to fire people, thirty-five-year-old Ryan Bingham spends his life on airplanes and in airports as he travels around the country, pursuing his goal to accumulate one million miles in his frequent flyer account.… (more)

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