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.
"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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Superb (on par with Franzen's The Corrections)
Shallow and wooden