Regulator Bookshop—The key to a good airline delay (if there is such thing) is good reading material. Jonathan Miles' Dear American Airlines is the ultimate airport novel, whether enjoyed from the comfort of your couch or the uncomfort of one of RDU's terminals.
Miles, who appears tonight at 7 p.m., was inspired to write a book about an airport delay after his own horrible experience trying to get from Memphis to New York with a connection in Chicago. Discussing the experience by telephone last week, Miles recalled the plane was forced to land in Peoria, Ill., then a bus ride took him to the city where he spent the night sleeping under a table. The inconvenience and frustration got him thinking about the real stuff people miss—the funerals, the births, the homecomings—when the airlines can't come through for them.
Miles' protagonist is also stuck in Chicago, and, desperate for some sort of control over the situation, he begins penning a letter to the airline, furiously and hilariously demanding a refund. But as he continues to write, his anger over missing a flight becomes a reflection on missing a life, not only his own but those around him. He begins to ponder all the missteps, mistakes and missed chances that got him to this place and time, an airport terminal on the eve of his estranged daughter's wedding.
Along with being a novelist, Miles is the regular cocktail columnist for The New York Times. When asked about a good cocktail for someone stranded in the airport, he laughs and says that in that situation one goes for "quantity, not quality." —Jessica Fuller