Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

I've never seen the film of Up in the Air by Walter Kirin (various editions; I read the movie tie-in). I understand that few of the plot points are the same, so if you've only seen it, well, I'm interested in hearing what you think.

Ryan Bingham speaks corporate. He's a road warrior, position head-remover. When a company needs people fired, Ryan does it, and counsels them toward Believing in Themselves and Succeeding. He thinks MythTech might be going to swoop in and save him from this bilious sort of life. They're checking up on him, aren't they? Sending him secret messages, aren't they? We stay with Ryan for his last itinerary, during which he's trying to hit his million airline miles before he quits. He'll give some away to charity and take a trip. It'll be nice.

Before he leaves, Ryan leaves his resignation on his boss's desk. He tries to make his meetings while also pitching a book deal, having some hookups, and retrieving his sister, a runaway bride, before heading to the family homestead. It's all a bit bizarre.

For me, the jaded businessman was an okay story, but the more fun one was spotting the outdated tech (this was published just after Y2K). Executives worrying about cell phone minutes. Metal detectors only at airport security. Cassette tape players (already a little old then). And yet, because Ryan was really interested in his own security and how he was being watched by MythTech, there was something creepily futuristic (modern?) in his fear.

I confess I felt a bit cheated by the ending, but I also should have seen it coming, and it does leave the book open for re-reading and reinterpretation. I won't, but someone else might. Instead, I'll revisit some of the travel books I used to sneak read in my youth, like the infamous Coffee, Tea or Me?

That's the end of the adult book winter reading stretch; next, it's back to YA. I'm working on a contemporary shelf that I'm trying to box up, so it'll be a bit before I'm back to SF/F.

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