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
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
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) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . A rollicking, frollicking good time!
Posted January 07, 2010 by Karen , Chandler, AZWritten through the mind of a screwed up genius, it's about a quintessential slacker coming of age. This novel is meandering and cerebral - not for the casual reader.
April 10, 2006
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Excerpt from Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel
A week before Quito I was sitting up in bed in New York, the edges of my awareness lapped at by traffic. I was sitting there with one hand holding open the book I was reading, and the other hand placed above the head of sleeping Vaneetha. There I was, pinned in space and time like a specimen in a box.
Vaneetha had turned away and slid down the bed so that nothing of her was visible except for the dark disheveled Vaneethian hair from which the lamplight was extracting all these twisting strings of a greenish iridescence. I wouldn t have figured that even the darkest hair could react to light in this way, and the discovery blinked in my mind as just the smallest, quietest symbol of the multiple discoveries that could still be made between us if we unless it was mostly me weren t so ambivalent about making them.
Once a week had become more like two times, and on our nights together I was usually awake like this for an hour or so while Vaneetha slept and breathed beside me. Sometimes she d twitch like a dreaming dog, and in part due to my intense feeling for dogs, shared by my entire family, this would induce a shiver of tenderness in me. Yet exactly because I experienced this tenderness I wondered if I shouldn t stop showing it when we were both awake. It could lead to us feeling, harmfully, that we were together. And as our relationship was predicated on not wanting to be in a relationship yet, that seemed unlike the best idea. We were both in agreement that contemporary courtship was far too accelerated these days. That was how Vaneetha explained why she d had so few partners, and how I explained why I d had seventeen or more. Nevertheless it eventually became up-in-the-air and unspoken whether we were sleeping together brother-sister style and mostly refraining from outright sex except when drunk because a) we weren t courting each other or
b) we were, only slowly, just as these things should be done and never are.