Up in the Air

Up in the Air Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars I start my review with a digression. I read the book and saw the movie (in that order) "Up in the Air" around the same time as the release of the Hindi movie "3 idiots" which is inspired from Chetan Bhagath's "5 point someone" (yet to read). The professionalism with which the book to movie adaptation has been done with "Up in the Air" puts the Bollywood junta and Bhagath in bad light. I think the respective movie makers' approach to the material has been similar. They have taken the essence of a novel and spun their own story around it, making it appeal to a different medium. "Up in the Air" succeeds in the professionalism front - author credited properly, movie-book tie-ins, author lets the movie hold its own and is happy in his place. Now I am not sure if Chetan Bhagath was compensated properly but the acrimonious tussle with the movie makers post "3 idiots" release has revealed how much of catching up the Indian entertainers have got to do in the legal front of adapting books.

I bought the book in an airport. I even mentioned to the sales lady - "seems appropriate for the place". Leafing through the preface, I noticed that a couple of other novels by Walter Kirn have also made it to the Hollywood mainstream and they are already in my Netflix list without me being conscious of it – they have been there for a while now. I finished the first half of the book in record time - I was mesmerized by the materialistic pursuit of Ryan Bingham. His career is an extraordinary one. A lay-off specialist. A good job to have if you love not staying in one place and make more acquaintances than relationships. While he is flying from one city to another he has a couple of siblings, who, through phone calls, try and keep him grounded. The lifestyle of Ryan Bingham is fascinating as much as it is repulsive to a 'family man'. Loved the character's personal quirks of having a new word a day and also the detached outlook on everyone and everything coming his way.The one thing that he is not detached from and is actually pursuing with great zeal is his million miles reward with a certain airlines. At some point in this nonstop travelogue he steps into Vegas and that's where the book stopped working for me. A sort of psychedelic incoherence seeps into both the character's mental state as wells as the writing. The end is bitter-sweet vis-a-vis the million miles pursuit but by that time I reached the end, I was going through the motions of just finishing the book. It is a good commentary on jet-setters with no roots and I believe I can recollect a few of my own acquaintances who are like that.

I would give an extra star to the movie as compared to the book. The movie also centers around the Ryan Bingham character as well and his quest for a frequent flier reward - 10 million miles this time. The support cast is a little different and far more entertaining than the book. The twist in the movie, which Wifey can't stop talking about, is quick and dirty. George Clooney is perfect for the role. The end in the movie is not a mortal one as it was in the book - at least not of the same kind - but manages to circle back to the beginning of the movie. I like that. View all my reviews >>

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