I read Dear American Airlines: A Novel by Jonathan Miles quickly. I spent most of the weekend on the couch, and part of that time was invested in this epistolary novel. The 2008 book is 180 pages, shorter than anything I’ve touched recently.
The novel is set in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and the letter it consists of is penned for the most part while the letter writer, Bennie R. Ford, sits in an uncomfortable O’Chair. Within the letter — Ford has a very long unplanned, forced layover — are pieces of his latest translation of a book from Polish into English. The letter also contains Ford’s life story, basically, as well as the reason for his present flight.
I loved the idea of the book as soon as I heard about it. Once I got into it, though, I was kind of sad. The book is sad. Ford has lived a hard life.
A couple notes:
• Some reviewers have been hesitant about the letter-form of the book. That actually drew me to the book.
• Some reviewers didn’t like the book within the book. I thought it worked OK.
• One of the quotes on the back cover say this book contains redemption and hope. I disagree with that. I did not find a drop of hope, and any redemption is small, late in coming, and implied at best.
I did enjoy the parts of the book that relate to his immediate dilemma.