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Checking In / Checking Out Paperback – October 1, 2011
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"A trove of poignant observations and thoughtful reflections on that strangest of modern experiences: commercial flight." -- Patrick Smith, Salon.com
"So nice to hold in your hands, like a passport." -- Timothy Morton, author of The Ecological Thought
"A cool, I’d even say noble, project." --Joe Keohane, Editor in Chief, Hemispheres
Schaberg and Yakich have written the perfect airplane read. Their book is actually two in one: reversible. One side relates behind-the-scenes stories of an ex-employee of United Airlines (2001-2003) at the Gallatin Field Airport outside Bozeman, Montana. The other side tells the story of one man's lifelong efforts to cure a fear of flying. With sincerity and irreverence, these two tales wrestle with issues of travel, work, technology, security, faith, reading, writing, and parenthood. Ultimately, the book opens up a space between the two sides where readers can become more mindful of their own experiences of air travel.
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Top customer reviews
In Checking In, Christopher Schaberg writes a reflective narrative of his part-time job as an airport employee while attending graduate school in Montana. His observations of the world of the airport - behind the scenes - give a new dimension to the mystique and drudgery of air travel. I found his descriptions of the shift in airport culture pre- and post- 9-11 especially perceptive. Perhaps unconsciously at first, Schaberg fused his work at the airport with his work at the University - studying the environment from multiple perspectives while simultaneously doing the heavy lifting and dirty work required on the tarmac. I was taken by his unique perspective on his duties and his co-workers, combined with his adroit academic musings, in this collection of airport stories.
Checking Out, Mark Yakich's narrative of his growing fear of flight, is the perfect companion to Schaberg's Checking In. There is so much in Yakich's writing that validates Schaberg's text (and vice versa); yet neither author takes himself too seriously. Yakich takes us on a journey through his mental relationship to flight - he traces how his fear of flying grew over time alongside his need for the written word. At times it may feel like Yakich is all over the map (both literally and figuratively) in his story, yet he circles back to his fear and his point so effectively that I couldn't put the book down. Somehow his humorous accounts of panic, snippets of historical plane crashes in surprising detail, and uncomfortable personal stories are woven together to make a very compelling case for the importance of a book, a book not unlike this passport-size paperback that I can hold in my hands and tuck, reassuringly, into my pocket.
Zane Kathryne Schwaiger
Schaberg's experience as the vaguely termed "cross-utilized agent" for SkyWest, allowed him to experience airports as a massive organism, of which he become a cell. Through his theoretical approach and biting sense of humor, he structures brilliant turns of phrase such as, "Usually each 50-passenger flight that I worked would require two standard size luggage carts full of roller bags, snowboard carriers, ski bags, pelican cases, octagonal metal film canisters, long plastic fishing rod cylinders, and hard-sided suitcases. Occasionally there would be a kayak, or a casket". This linguistic process to render both the frivolity and solemnity of traveler's purpose on board underscores the uniting theme of the book, that planes and airports are as much a part of our nature as trees or animals. Airports are a plane for life and death, the mundane and the extreme.
Both Schaberg and Yakich convey airports as "human phenotypes", where we as creatures exist in techno-cultural ecosystems. Yakich's narrative underscores the airport pervasive presence in his fear of planes that physical draws him to visit the airport each day. The two-prong narrative creates a deeply engrossing and accessible philosophical read.
see also: The Textual Life of Airports: Reading the Culture of Flight