Indecision

  • by Benjamin Kunkel
  • Narrated by Patrick Frederic
  • 8 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 28, but he's having a midlife crisis. Of course, living a dissolute, dormlike 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.

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What the Critics Say

"Deeply satisfying....The funniest and smartest coming-of-age novel in years....Kunkle manages, just barely, to preserve the superb comic tone of the novel, even as he gestures, like some literary voice in the wilderness, toward a hazy new frontier of hip sincerity, of irony subordinated to a higher calling." (Jay McInerney, The New York Times Books Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Superb (on par with Franzen's The Corrections)

Jay McInerney praised Kunkel's book in the NYT last week. This title hit audible.com quickly, and I spent last Sunday and Labor day happily chipping away at menial tasks, in drugged delight as I listened to the clever tone and distancing humor of this novel. In one way, it can be read as a hilarious, 21st century version of the Great Gatsby, though I don't even like the Gatsby. The lead character is "the facile American" wandering through the world charming others by dint of his lack of clear opinions or strong desires. This is a pharmaceutically driven (as opposed to character-driven) novel. Kunkel's masterful tone deftly alludes to Delillo's classic, White Noise, where the drug du jour had been designed to banish Jack Gladney's fear of death. Dwight Wilmerding, floats through his life, consulting a coin-toss for his big decisions. His glib ignorance shimmers with a natural's insouciance, but his illformed thoughts express longings and vague anxieties that would sound too heavy were they articulated straight up. Near the book's closing, there's a slight bump, as we read his publicly formulated philosophical incoherence in the speech delivered at his 10 year high school reunion. The use of prose to instantiate the fagged out fumbling didn't work well for Joyce, and it is the least funny part of this book. Even when it hits this relative rough patch, the tone is still artfully balanced and smooth.
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- Paul

Shallow and wooden

unique and neurotic is always good..pretending to be unique and neurotic is terrible. This book has no depth, is circular and read like a 3rd rate cable show.
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- Chris

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-02-2005
  • Publisher: Random House Audio