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.
"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. The mockery is
humane. The tale of Dwight Wilmerding is told with style and care. And there’s a surprising ending. Benjamin Kunkel, welcome!"
–Norman Rush, author of Mating
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Indecision|
|Release Date: 08-30-2005|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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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 se