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Publisher's Summary

Ryan Bingham's job as a Career Transition Counselor - he fires people - has kept him airborne for years. Although he has come to despise his line of work, he has come to love the culture of what he calls "Airworld" - finding contentment within pressurized cabins, anonymous hotel rooms, and a wardrobe of wrinkle-free slacks.

With a letter of resignation sitting on the desk of his boss and the hope of a job with a mysterious consulting firm, Ryan Bingham is agonizingly close to his ultimate goal, his Holy Grail: one million frequent flier miles. But before he achieves this long-desired freedom, conditions begin to deteriorate.

With perception, wit, and wisdom, Up in the Air combines brilliant social observation with an acute sense of the psychic costs of our rootless existence, and confirms Walter Kirn as one of the most savvy chroniclers of American life.

©2002 Walter Kirn (P)2009 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A dead-on, wry portrait of the life of the road warrior." ( The Washington Post)
"[A] hilarious, often ingenious ode to America.. . . . Whip smart yet entertaining enough to rival anything from John Grisham." ( Time Out New York)
"Kirn's style is as bright and metallic as the shiny skin of a jet airplane. But his underlying point is refreshingly down to earth." ( Chicago Tribune)

What listeners say about Up in the Air

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    51
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    23
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Just breathing can be such a luxury sometimes.

I liked it a lot. It is hard because I kept wanting to compare it to DeLillo's best. It isn't DeLillo's best, but it isn't embarassed by the comparisson to good DeLillo. In someways it reminds me of 2001's answer to Americana (travel, corporate America, the West, relationships, etc). I'm fascinated with Kirn and this won't be the last of this review. However, it is late. I'm flying tomorrow (Ironically) and only half my flight will give me miles.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not the movie

This is one of those books that I don't know how they got the movie from the book. I really enjoyed the movie and found this book sad and depressing. The lead character in the book is much more dysfunctional than the movie character. Would not recommend.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Thought Provoking

This book was highly entertaining the first time through thanks to Kirn's clandestine poetry and the soothing voice of Runnette. I'm listening a second time and the elements of the plot have proven to be thought-provoking about contemporary America without becoming preachy.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Better than the movie

Up in the Air is a great book. It’s airtight writing that tells the story of a detached man flying across the country for work.

To people who have seen the movie first.... the book is a lot different. The movie brought in themes from the 2008 financial crisis and his job of laying people off has an added relevance. The book also doesn’t have the Anna Kendrick character, his protege for termination.

Overall, I prefer the book because it’s more nuanced and although the movie is good it has a message to it that the book doesn’t.

I prefer the simplicity of the book over the semi message driven movie.

Enjoy

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Avoid! Not enjoyable. Not much like movie.

Other than a few descriptions of packing, flying, and being tired, almost none of the story line or charm from the movie is in this book.

He spends little time talking about his career (the Anna Kendrick character is non-existent).

It was around 1 hour of good material and 8 hours of complaining about family, etc.

I rarely give a 1 star review, but this was pretty bad.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't Finish it

I travel extensively and could relate to the experiences, but found the book very stale.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

The book is not always better

I loved the movie but was very disappointed in the book. If you have seen the movie, don’t waste your time on the book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Awful Ending

Voice was ok, a bit monotone.
Story was ok at first, but ends abruptly.
Not worth spending a credit on.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The story is great, but the reader sucks!

I liked the story, but the reader is so monotonous! He reads as if he was a laying on a death bed talking about his lost opportunities and empty hopes.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring and repetitive

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you like reading about anomie, this book is for you. Drifting, obsessive compulsive main character, troubled, but who cares. Great observations of air travel and details of airports, but after a while, it's more of the same and more.

What could Walter Kirn have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Kirn might have cut this by half and improved it.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Narrator: montonous.