Frustrated, irate, and helpless, Bennie does the only thing he can: he starts to write a letter. But what begins as a hilariously excoriating demand for a refund soon becomes the cri de coeur of a life misspent, talent wasted.
Ford pens his letter in a voice that is a marvel of lacerating wit, heart-on-sleeve emotion, and wide-ranging erudition, all propelled by the fading hope that if he can just make it to the wedding, he has a chance to do something right in his life.
©2008 Jonathan Miles; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Bennie's command of language as he describes his fellow strandees and his riotous embrace of his own feelings will have readers rooting for him." (Publishers Weekly)
I found myself pulled into this book by the author's use of language, which was by turns lyrical, sarcastic, subtle, wickedly observant, and absolutely believable as the stream of consciousness of a poet manque, but also by Mark Bramhall's reading, which was, for me, spot-on.
It's hard not to love someone who takes aim and fires his wit at the airlines, but Bennie weaves his helpless fury through his tale of missed chances and regrets, and between the author and the reader, I couldn't help but be on Bennie's side. He's a world-class screw-up, but sweet and sad and never malicious, and I came to understand and forgive him.
I must say that having it read to me so engagingly has left me wondering how I would feel about this book had I read it myself. The writing is wonderful, but the performance put it over the top.
I really loved this book. The narrator was wonderful and I think really gave life to Bennie. This was, of course, not about American Airlines at all, but merely the backdrop and opportunity for Bennie to examine his life and his plan. I feel like I need to listen again to the "Valenti" parts, because honestly I found those distracting from the story and wanted to ff through them. Somewhere along the line (early) I had NO idea what was going on with that, and just found those pieces annoying. However, I'm thinking they must weave into the story somehow, so would like to listen to that again.
But overall, this is a great book, humorous, sad, ironic, wonderfully told, wonderfully narrated. I do highly recommend it.
I doubt I would have finished this book if I'd been reading it rather than listening to it. Stories tend to drift around and characters float in and out.
Rather like a really, really, really long lay-over in an airport.
Coincidence? I think not.
Story starts off well, drags.. then ends decently.
I don't know what the hell people on this site are looking for in a work of fiction that they're giving this book/reader less than 4-5 stars, but this book is excellent. Perhaps the title encouraged a little misunderstanding into the point of the narrative, but how would a 7-hour diatribe against an airline be at all entertaining? This story is compelling, if a little obvious (the drunken poet recants his misspent talent and youth), but the characters and wit are amazingly detailed and imaginative. The reader was excellent as well.
It's the language in this one that makes it compelling.
Bennie's a flawed character, but he knows that. He keeps trying despite decades of indication that he's going to fail, and virtually every failure is of his own making. Yet, somehow you root for him.
Also, the narrator does a beautiful job with the accent. There is nothing distracting in the narration and you can relax and enjoy the vivid vocabulary and the way the words all fit together.
I bought "Dear American Airlines" because of the rave review it received from the New York Times (June 1, 2008), and also because I was looking forward to a rant against American Airlines as emblematic of nightmarish air travel in the U.S. I didn't get the rant and I didn't get a good book.
Let's dispense with American Airlines first. Because of overbooking by American Airlines, Bennie, the book's protagonist, is stuck in O'Hare Airport on the way to his daughter's wedding. He uses his many hours there to write a letter to the airline, but the letter is little about his dismal air trip, and all about his past life. Thus, a somewhat original, but contrived, literary device gives the book its title "Dear American Airlines."
Bennie has been in an alcoholic haze most of his life, but has been admirably sober for sometime before this trip to the wedding of a daughter he abandoned at birth and hasn't seen since. He recounts the events of his past life, which I found neither illuminating nor particularly interesting. Although not a bad sort, Bennie's natural talent as a poet, and his life choices were all marred by his alcoholism, which resulted in one failure after another. I found their telling tedious and predictable, and Bernie's now sober self-criticism and awareness of his shortcomings and behavior, did not seem particularly enlightening on any level. As I read about them, I asked myself: "What is the meaning of this sad narrative?" I couldn't find enough worth to justify the time spent.
As for the reader, although the protagonist, Bennie, was born in Louisiana, and the reader's southern accent was appropriate, I still found it annoying.
I have flown AA for 20+ years, and have many stories just like the ones in this book. There was enitrely too much focus on the adjunct meanderings about Ford's childhood and love interests than about the misery of traveling these days. I have been stuck at O'Hare when it was like a war zone battlefield, and he could have elaborated on this and many other airline and airport faults.
My biggest dislike in the book is the graphic and 'over the top' sex scenes, told in way too much detail. The author must be a failed porn star, and decided to sell his fantasies couched in a mainstream novel that would draw unsuspecting readers that were interested in how bad air travel is these days.
Overall this was a huge disappointment.
as a former road warrior I thought this book would be interesting and take me back to letters I wrote this airline, especially when I ended up in the hospital with severe food poisoning. I was very disappointed with this book it was not poetic at all. I listened to hours of drivel, complaining and swearing-get on with life! Really for a couple of hundred dollars spent on a ticket we had to listen to this? The narration was a bit better than other books however with such a bad subject to read, it was ready hard to tell how good the narrator ready was. After 3 hours of swearing and whining about his life I had it.
Story is way too long, with too many digressions. The reader is okay, but his "female" voice is irritating. Lots of fast-fowarding is needed to get through the book; while I usually prefer unabridged books, this book would be better in an abridged form. There's some great humor, and wonderful writing, but much more editing is needed for it to be a book worthy of it's length.
The reader is perfect! This is a very sad and beautiful story. (Ted, you obviously missed the point!! ) The story is much deeper than the title implies. Well worth listening.
What is this? An english assignment?
Deep understanding of the material. He actually READ the material BEFORE he did the performonce!!! This is FLAWLESS! Mark's reading MADE the book for me. This is a very moving book, I don't think anyone else could make the telling better.
One of the best readings I have ever experienced. I have been listening to audio books on any available medium for almost two decades.
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