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Indecisionby Benjamin Kunkel
"[I]n the end, Indecision is not your father's novel of youthful malaise; Kunkel wants to do more than document the days and nights of the over-privileged and underpaid. He wants to explore the cause and effect of this malaise and, ultimately, its morality. Happily, Indecision, Dwight's "memoir" of his path from Gawker-esque cubicle denizen to passionate idealist, manages to be astonishingly convincing and entertaining at once." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Benjamin Kunkel's brilliantly comic debut novel concerns one of the central maladies of our time — a pathological indecision that turns abundance into an affliction and opportunity into a curse.
Dwight B. Wilmerding is only twenty-eight, but he's having a midlife crisis. Of course, living a dissolute, dorm like existence in a tiny apartment and working in tech support at the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer are not especially conducive to wisdom.
And a few sessions of psychoanalysis conducted by his sister have distinctly failed to help with his biggest problem: a chronic inability to make up his mind.
Encouraged by one of his roommates to try an experimental pharmaceutical meant to banish indecision, Dwight jumps at the chance (not without some meditation on the hazards of jumping) and swallows the first fateful pill. And when all at once he is pfired from Pfizer and invited to a rendezvous in exotic Ecuador with the girl of his long-ago prep-school dreams, he finds himself on the brink of a new life.
The trouble — well, one of the troubles — is that Dwight can't decide if the pills are working. Deep in the jungles of the Amazon, in the foreign country of a changed outlook, his would-be romantic escape becomes a hilarious journey into unbidden responsibility and unwelcome knowledge.
How to affirm happiness without living in constant denial of the ways of the world? How to commit, and to what? At once funny and poignant, gentle and outrageous, finely intelligent and proudly silly, Indecision rings with a voice of great energy and originality, while its deeper inquiries reflect the concerns and style of a generation.
"Dwight Wilmerding, the vacillating, down-market prepster protagonist of Kunkel's debut novel, gets fired from his low-level job at Pfizer and, with the lease running out on his hive-like Chambers Street boys-club apartment, lights out for Quito, Ecuador, where high school flame Natasha is holed up. Before this momentous undertaking, Dwight has been afflicted with chronic postcollegiate indecision, particularly in relationships: should he pursue a life with his quasi-girlfriend, Vaneetha? Start up again with Natasha? And what about his weird thing for his sister, Alice? As luck would have it, one of his roommates is a med student who turns Dwight on to Abulinix, an experimental new treatment for chronic indecision, which makes his South American jaunt very eventful indeed. A subtheme on the post-politicality of post-9/11 20-somethings gives the book some bite and surfaces most conspicuously in the form of Brigid, the Euroactivist who, along with the drug, brings Dwight clarity, and even hope. Annoying but accomplished, this entertaining book has screenplay written all over it, from the hot Dutch Natasha to the shambling cute Dwight — not to mention Harvard-educated, New York — literati Kunkel himself. (Sept. 6)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"If Kunkel ultimately seems to want to move beyond irony and youthful nihilism...he certainly embraces and rides the hell out of them in the beginning, with deeply satisfying results." New York Times
"Here's what Indecision gives you: sustained social and intellectual comedy, possibly the last but certainly the funniest Superfluous Man in modern literature, drive-by satire, plus detailed set-piece send-ups of Young Adult colgrads at work and play....And there's a surprising ending. Benjamin Kunkel, welcome!" Norman Rush, author of Mating
"Kunkel may unfairly be compared to David Foster Wallace or Rick Moody, but unlike them he has succeeded in writing a novel that's clever without being self-conscious." Washington Post
"The tentativeness with which Kunkel approaches [his] fairly radical conclusion may just be an indication of the narrowness of our contemporary literary idiom....
"What saves the book from being frivolous...is its humor, which bursts forth in several madcap and welcome scenes." Library Journal
"Those who don't become impossibly annoyed with the hapless, initially whiny lead will enjoy seeing this well-paced tale through to the end. It isn't high art, but it's full of high spirits." Kirkus Reviews
"In the hapless, charming Dwight Wilmerding, he has created one of those narrators whose voices you can hear in your head long after the book is finished." Nell Freudenberger, author of Lucky Girls
A young man plagued by chronic indecision is "pfired" by Pfizer and journeys to Ecuador in pursuit of an old flame.
About the Author
Benjamin Kunkel grew up in Colorado. He has written for Dissent, The Nation, and the The New York Review of Books, and is a founding editor of n+1 magazine.
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