Up in the Air – Review

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Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

Age: Adult Fiction

I went to see the movie Up in the Air about a few months ago, and instantly fell in love with the story, the theme and the characters of the movie. Having learned that it was based on a book by Walter Kirn, I put a hold on the book as soon as possible and started reading it.

The book Up in the Air, differs incredibly from the movie. Although there is a still a melancholy tone, a theme of unfinished business and unrequited love, the actual story told about Ryan Bingham is different. In the movie, Ryan’s job is to announce lay-offs to employees of major companie and provide those employees with advice to help them with their transition from having a job to being jobless. In the book, this is still Ryan’s job, but it is not the focus of the book. In fact, the focus is on Ryan having turned in his 2 week notice, his attempts to meet with his publisher about his self-help book, and about his desire to work for Mythtech. The story of the book spans only a week. During this week of travel, Ryan is still earning points, hoping to achieve 1million frequent flier points before his last day at CIC. In this week, we are introduced to Airworld. A work in flight, in motion and with little to no baggage involved. The people in Ryan’s life are fleeting and unreliable, but then again, so is he.

Overall, I found this book to be an wonderful breath of fresh air for all the chick-driven literature I’ve been reading lately. This book was told by a man, for men, and that was an awesome thought process to experience. Kirn’s short and choppy sentences demonstrate just how fast-paced Ryan’s life is. He supplements the dull moments with philosophical quips about human behaviour and interactions based on Ryan’s methods of handling different situations and via his conversations with fellow passengers on the plane.

My only regret is that I did not give this book the time that it needed. I kept putting off reading the last third because I had to read my book club books first. By the time I was able to return to Kirn’s fictional Airworld, I had lost my connection to the book and sort of rushed through the end. I think if I hadn’t taken such a long break, the book would have had a more powerful effect on me.

Up in the Air
Walter Kirn
Doubleday, 2001
ISBN 9780385497107
303 pages
Find this book at your local library

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