: Up in the air (9780307476289) : Walter Kirn : Books
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Up In The Air

by Walter Kirn
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Anchor
  • Publishing date: 27/10/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780307476289
  • ISBN: 0307476286


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.

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  • Not Nearly As Good As The Movie
    From Amazon

    It's not often when a movie outshines its book. Being an avid reader, I've been disappointed enough times when I settled down to watch the movie version of a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I read the novel Up In The Air after I saw the movie. And this was only because I didn't know there was a book. I enjoyed the movie a lot, so when I found the book at the library I was excited to pick it up and give it a read. Well, I was disappointed. Aside from some of the names and a few lines, the book and movie are nothing alike. The Ryan in the book is a self-absorbed traveler who rambles non-stop about stuff that doesn't interest me. I couldn't see George Clooney playing this part. There's an Alex, but she's nothing like the great character of the movie. Honestly I would have never read this book if I hadn't seen the movie. I struggled to finish the book, and I feel pretty confident that I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't seen the movie. I grew tired of Ryan's ramblimgs and the annoying side characters. The MythTech subplot seemed a bit ridiculous. Even though they had the same title, and the movie was "based" on the book, they are two different stories. See the movie, don't read the book.

  • A hard book to get through.
    From Amazon

    I had a really hard time getting into this book. I kept on reading and was hoping for the best, but I never really got into it. I'm going to still see the movie. Maybe it will be better. *UPDATE - 03/18/10* I watched the movie based on this book, and I liked it much more. I can't say that happens very often. It's almost always the other way around.

  • Up In The Air Was Not Bad At All!
    From Amazon

    OK. many of these reviews were based off of people who saw the movie first and then read the book and unfortunately have no deep taste in romantic comedy. First of all The book and Movie are different in MANY ways. The movie throws some lines from the book in to the film and kept some characters from the book and threw in some new ones and the atmosphere that the book had seemed to glow in the movie. BUT recognize that this book was published in 2001 and not 2009. Up In The Air (The Film) Is BASED off THIS novel. Second I HIGHLY recommend that people read the book first and then see the movie. Both the film and the book are FANTASTIC and honestly I think the book goes much more in depth then the movie and is also very entertaining and slightly funny. Third people go into Up In The Air thinking that this is some outlandish comedy revolved around a stupid plot, people like this really misunderstood the WHOLE concept of the story itself if they thought that way. This whole story in both the film and the book are a Business/Romantic Comedy so please take that into account that the book and movie are more serious than funny and are trying to convey a sense of importance to relationships met in the business world NOT how funny it is when someone fires a group of people and their reactions. The Book and Film were fantastic and if you are reading my review I highly recommend you ignore the negative ones because people like that just don't have a taste in these types of stories or basically misunderstood the WHOLE story itself. I read the book first and saw the movie. I payed attention and cared. So take it from this review that both the book and the movie are DEFINITIVELY worth some of your time.

  • boring, tedious
    From Amazon

    This is one of the worst books I have ever read. It is very boring, very tedious; just a chore to read even 10 pages at a time. "MythTech" is the only interesting idea in the book, and it is not explored until about 80% of the way through. Seriously, this book is in my top 3 of worst books I have read.

  • Just O.K.
    From Amazon

    I knew when I purchased this book it was just going to be O.K. (based on previous reviews). was just that. I thought the beginning was strong and then things got weird and strange toward the end. I didn't really connect with any characters.

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