Air Conditioned

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Nonfiction account of Henry Miller’s travels through the United States, published in 1945. Miller undertook these travels in 1940 and 1941 after returning from a lengthy stay in Europe. Miller comments, largely negatively, on America’s physical landscape as well as on the mood and spirit of the American people. Among other things, he contrasts the ideals of the firstborn founders with contemporary Americans’ love of making money. Miller commented further on these themes in the sequel Remember to Remember (1947). — The Merriam-Webster Encylopedia of Literature

About the Author
Henry Miller (1891—1980) was one of the most debatable American novelists for the duration of his lifetime. His book, The Tropic of Cancer, was banned in the a heap of U.S. states before being overruled by the Supreme Court. New Directions publishes assorted of his books.

“Henry Miller is the nearest thing to Céline America has produced…. He aims not at the ears, brains, or consciences, but at the viscera and solar plexus.”—The New Leader.

In 1939, after ten years as an expatriate, Henry Miller returned to the United States with a keen desire to see what his native land was actually like—to get to the origins of the American nature and experience. He set out on a traveling that was to last three years, visiting some sections of the country and making friends of all descriptions. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is the result of that odyssey.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #208903 in Books
  • Published on: 1970-10-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 7.87″ h x .79″ w x 5.28″ l, .74 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 292 pages


29 of 30 people found the following review helpful.
5‘But the ashes are still warm.’
By B. Morse
In reading Henry Miller’s surprisingly contemporary ‘The Air-Conditioned Nightmare I experienced the same kind of desire to ‘see’ America as I did when reading Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, but for very different reasons.

While Kerouac’s narrative was that of his experiences with people he encountered along his way while traversing the country, Miller seems most at ease in dozens of miles of empty desert highway, alone with his thoughts.

Miller, returning from many years of living abroad, decided to write about his experiences traveling across America, and what his native people were really like; what the country had become, since the ideas and ideals put forth by the founding fathers.

His scathing, relentless narrative berates the ‘American Dream’ and ‘Way of Life’…and the pursuit of such. Americans are painted as greedy, self-indulgent, ignorant of history, bereft of morals, and devoid of honor and dignity.

But Miller also finds along the way things that he loves. A greater understanding of the workings of an automobile, a love of the land itself that he never had while living in America, and much more.

Juxtapositioned with his disdain for American culture and standards, it illustrates how Miller himself learned to separate the people from the place, and love America itself for it’s most basic beauty and qualities; while bemoaning those who inhabited its soil.

An excellent read by a gifted narrator, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is not a book for the very patriotic. While it might give such people cause to re-think their love of life here in the states, it also has the potential to offend.

Highly recommended, but only to like-minded readers.

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful.
5Travels with Henry Miller around the United States
By A
In “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare”, Henry Miller writes about an automobile trip he made through the United States in the 1950’s. His encounters with colorful characters, and his hilarious and insightful descriptions of the towns he passes through make this a “must read” for Miller fans. His criticisms of the banality and shallowness of American life he observed then still hit the mark. His favorite region was the South, which, as a Southener, I appreciate, and so this part of the book was especially interesting to me. Compared with Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”, which was written at about the same time, this is a more cynical and negative view of America, but is saved from being merely depressing by Miller’s wonderfully savage sense of humor and his ultimately forgiving human heart

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful.
5Still true!
By Buffalo Head
Miller’s observations of the USA are still true 60 years later. The contrast is between the man-made horrors and some of the wonderful artists Miller found in out of the way places. My favorite chapter is the story about Weeks Hall’s mansion “Shadows” at Bayou Teche, Louisiana — it inspired me to visit the place, which was still as mysterioso as Miller had described it.

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