Customer Review

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When a flight is cancelled, let your imagination fly, June 3, 2008
This review is from: Dear American Airlines: A Novel (Hardcover)
Benjamin Ford, the protagonist of this novel, is flying from New York to Los Angeles to attend his daughter Stella's wedding. But in transit, at the O'Hare airport, his connecting flight is suddenly cancelled, stranding him. He begins to worry that he will be late for the wedding. While waiting for more than eight hours at the air port - and smoking seventeen cigarettes - for the next flight, he starts writing a letter of complaint to the American Airlines, demanding a refund of $392.68, the price of the round trip airfare. This letter of complaint grows in length, and matures into a funny, witty, mesmerizing novel.

Benjamin, middle-aged, is a poet and writer; he translates Polish novels into English. While writing the letter of complaint, he ponders about his failed marriages, his misdirected and ruined life, the time he wasted drinking heavily, his estranged daughter, his bed-ridden mother and the cramped apartment he shares with her. He also dwells on Walenty Mozelewski, the protagonist of the novel "The Free State of Trieste," which he has been translating from Polish. Walenty has lost a leg to mortar shell in a war, and so he is physically crippled. Benjamin is crippled too; he is emotionally crippled, a victim mostly of self-inflicted wounds.

When someone you know begins to whine, generally you would try to get away from the whiner at the very first chance you get. But the author's whining here, in the form of a very long letter of complaint, I read as if I were glued to my seat, forgetting even to reach for my cup of coffee in the microwave. This novel is funny, witty, acerbic, and at times vitriolic, mesmerizing, hilarious, hypnotic, dazzling, sad, and in turn heart-breaking and very touching, all at once! How did Jonathan Miles accomplish this feat? Through the flight of his imagination and magic of his pen, I suppose.

Written in lively, abrasive, masculine, snappy, and yet strangely affecting prose, this book will delight, provoke, entertain and sadden the reader:

"In that eightish-hour period I've smoked seventeen cigarettes which wouldn't be notable save for the fact that the dandy Hudson News outlets here don't stock my brand so I'll soon be forced to switch to another, and while that shouldn't upset me it does. In fact, it enrages me. Here's my life in dangly tatters and I can't even enjoy this merest of my pleasures. Several hours ago a kid in a Cubs windbreaker bummed one of mine and I swear if I spy him again I'll smash him like a Timex. Cough it up, you turd. But then all this talk of smoking is giving me the familiar itch, so if you'll excuse me for a moment I'm off to the sidewalk, as required by law, to scratch it."

It is very rare to come across a first novel as charming and impressive as this. Jonathan Miles is an astonishing writer.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 11, 2008 5:56:43 AM PDT
Ozalba says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 11, 2008 9:29:46 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 11, 2008 9:36:00 AM PDT
Hi Ozalba,
Wow! It only shows that people have different preferences and tastes. Microwave is merely a source that generates and provides heat, just as electricity and gas are also sources that provide heat. I just use freeze-dried, instant coffee in tap water and heat it in the microwave, add some milk and sugar, and stir the concoction - and my coffee is ready! I used to brew my coffee when I was a lot younger ; but now I prefer the convenience of instant coffee. And I do not like the fancy, Starbucks coffee that some people seem to like; it is just too bitter for me, and I can not drink it.
Any way, what has microwave to do with my( or any one else's) credibility? It's like saying to some one : "You lost all credibility because you like bananas!"

Posted on Mar 25, 2010 11:24:22 AM PDT
Mr. Prabhu - I enjoyed your review of Dear American Airlines. I am the author of a novel that is similar to DAA in style and tone, and I think you might enjoy it. It is entitled One Last Thing to Do Before I Die (available on Amazon), and I'd be happy to send you a copy if you are interested in reading it.

Please let me know.

Best regards,

Steven Drew Goldberg

Posted on Dec 31, 2013 11:18:59 AM PST
This author-to-author "review" is a kiss-up, plain and simple. It's written and edited as if by Miles's own press agent.
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