Feature

Novel of the week: Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Dear American Airlines starts out as a letter of complaint from a stranded traveler and turns

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles (Houghton Mifflin, $23)

The mere premise of this hilarious debut “should be enough to win it millions of readers,” said Benjamin Lytal in The New York Sun. Framed as a long letter of complaint from a stranded airline traveler, it “begins in attack mode, but curls”—as the protagonist’s wait stretches on and on—“into a deeply penetrating self-examination.” The book’s disgruntled Everyman has a lot at stake, said Porter Shreve in the Chicago Tribune. A failed poet and a boozy flop of a father, he’s desperate to get to California for his only daughter’s wedding and not at all proud of the life he’s lived. But he’s great company. “Turn to nearly any page” of his 180-page missive and you’ll be won over by a “funny, smart, touching, wonderfully caustic, or well-turned sentence or paragraph.” Underlying the entire story is a theme “that couldn’t be more timely,” said Richard Russo in The New York Times. At a time when the blame game has become a favorite American indulgence, this particular traveler has been given the chance to work out who’s really at fault for the mess he’s in. It’s even possible that “he actually owes American Airlines a debt of gratitude.”

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