"Up In The Air" Novelist Walter Kirn Talks About Technology, Careers, Modern Life

Share Article

Literary Kicks blogger Levi Asher interviews Walter Kirn, author of the novel "Up In The Air", now a successful film directed by Jason Reitman starring George Clooney. Asher and Kirn discuss transformations between book and film versions, the meaning of modern invasive consumer marketing, the character of Ryan Bingham ("Ryan's greatest love is not a person but a world, a milieu, a feeling he gets while traveling," says Kirn) in a short but far-ranging interview.

Literary Kicks blogger Levi Asher interviews Walter Kirn, author of the novel "Up In The Air", now a successful film directed by Jason Reitman starring George Clooney. Asher leads Kirn to explore some of the book's darker themes, such as the invasiveness of corporate marketing in our modern lives.

"I'm not so much outraged by the consumer marketing industry as I am astonished by its arrogance in believing that people can be led, manipulated, and molded," says the creator of George Clooney's popular character Ryan Bingham, who lives in antiseptic consumer environments such as airports and chain hotels. "To sell someone something," Kirn says, "the seller must have some theory as to what makes human beings tick and what makes some of us tick differently than others. What a mad, imaginative and strange enterprise this constitutes, particularly when it seems to work.

Kirn reveals his feelings about the transformative nature of the Jason Reitman/George Clooney film, and explores the differences between the book and movie versions of the story's hero, George Clooney's Ryan Bingham:

"Ryan's greatest love is not a person but a world, a milieu, a feeling he gets while traveling," says Kirn. "He lives in the spaces that most of us detest, the standardized limbos of the traveling man, who is rarely here nor there but is always vividly present to himself and can count on the company of others like him and the services of those who cater to them. In the book, this "lifestyle", to use a term I hate, has taken a certain, unspecified toll on him, which he feels but can’t explain. In the movie, he’s wholly comfortable with his choices, but in the book he senses the strains they’ve placed on him and is casting about for a remedy of some sort even as he sinks deeper into his obsessions and tries to explain their allure to the reader."

Asher and Kirn discuss the meaning of modern technological innovations ("is Google MythTech?") and the difference between literary criticism and fiction in this short but far-ranging interview with a novelist of rising importance.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

LEVI ASHER
Visit website