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The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – October 1, 1970
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
While Kerouac's narrative was that of his experiences with people he encountered along his way while traversing the country, Miller seems most at ease in dozens of miles of empty desert highway, alone with his thoughts.
Miller, returning from many years of living abroad, decided to write about his experiences traveling across America, and what his native people were really like; what the country had become, since the ideas and ideals put forth by the founding fathers.
His scathing, relentless narrative berates the 'American Dream' and 'Way of Life'...and the pursuit of such. Americans are painted as greedy, self-indulgent, ignorant of history, bereft of morals, and devoid of honor and dignity.
But Miller also finds along the way things that he loves. A greater understanding of the workings of an automobile, a love of the land itself that he never had while living in America, and much more.
Juxtapositioned with his disdain for American culture and standards, it illustrates how Miller himself learned to separate the people from the place, and love America itself for it's most basic beauty and qualities; while bemoaning those who inhabited its soil.
An excellent read by a gifted narrator, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is not a book for the very patriotic. While it might give such people cause to re-think their love of life here in the states, it also has the potential to offend.
Highly recommended, but only to like-minded readers.
This is a great book to introduce newcomers to Miller's work. It also is a fascinating portrait of America at a point in time and from a certain perspective. Especially given the modern habit of romanticizing the WW2 era, Air Conditioned Nightmare gives an alternative, cynical view that remains insightful today.
What holds me back from giving the book five stars is that it falls victim particularly harshly to Miller's characteristic laziness. His favorite trope of gushing over some new friend of his for a chapter or two unfortunately dominates the book, and he rambles off on some very dull tangents about things like car trouble.
Nonetheless, there's plenty of Miller's brilliant diatribes and observations, which make it quite worth the while to plough through the hubris.
Three-stars certainly imply ambivalence, and I feel much of that towards the author, and this particular work. At some level, he is disgusted with "the game" of making a livelihood, and there is much to be said for that. In general though, he "solves" the problem by being a parasite, looking for the next handout. France had provided him with solace and nurture for a decade. Others have noted his casual "noblesse oblige" attitude towards Hitler.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Boring and self-indulgent. This is the author projecting his feelings rather than providing real insight into the America he sees. This book is a waste of time.Published 26 days ago by Still Rockin
Not Miller's best - except for the chapter about Week's Hall and Shadows on the Teche, which I visited this year, having been inspired by Mille's chapter on the Shadows.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
Like reading the journal of your best friend whom you will never meet.Published 16 months ago by Andrew Betsch
really amazing book, it discusses issues we still face today.Published 23 months ago by Kevin Welsh
I love Henry Miller's books; this isn't one of them. It's a collection of boring, windy ruminations, some claiming to be portraits, generally unpersuasively. Read morePublished on July 26, 2014 by Linksman
What a cynical unappreciative person wrote this. I couldn't and didn't want to read it all. If there was a redeeming end to this book, I didn't care to find it.Published on June 15, 2014 by Leila Acree