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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.

©2005 Benjamin Kunkel; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall

well it leads you to think its good

This novel has to be the first time I have stopped listening to a book, let alone with only 10 minutes of the audiobook left. Throughout the entire book the characters pretend to be philosophically searching for some sort of purpose or social order that the protagonist is continually revising, while journeying through his therapy sessions, adventures from Connecticut to Ecuador, and medicating that is both pseudo and self prescribed. It waxes about a generation jaded and freed of the cold war and thrown into the war on terrorism. Goes on at length about the abundacy of choices provided by a "neo-liberal/neo conservative"(charcter says they are one in the same) political economy. How realtionships suck in New York, And says democratic socialism is the greatest thing on earth.
Basically the main character is an insufferable character that never reaches any intelligent conclusions though he speaks philosophically on EVERYTHING...AND in the end his choice illustrates how thourghly ignorant and malfunctioning he really is, besides not wanting to do anything truly productive in his life other than get high and have sex(the entire book is about that immature). The author also ends the book as if it needs some sort of ridiculous movie style ending with the protagnist making a jackass out of himself in public. I guess I'll never really know how that situation turned out for the character, but I've never cared less about anything in my entire life.
If the character had more Don Quixote loveability and less unexcuseable pathetic, pretend to know that he has a valid stance (while he's preaching; I meant all the time). I might have listened to the last 10 minutes.

I give it 2 stars only because the prose is decent at times and conatins an occassionally funny line. Story and characters aren't worh the investment.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chris
  • Boston, MA, USA
  • 09-30-05

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.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

31 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good writing, boring story

Kunkel's style and use of language are very good, sometimes great, with unexpected and quirky descriptions that bring a scene or a feeling to life. But the story is pointless and tedious and the characters are unappealing and soon get quite boring. I really didn't care much what happened to any of them. The narrator's forced, vaguely Europeanish accents for some of the characteres get pertty irritating.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 12-30-06

Extremely Mediocre and Tedious

I am one of those who must read or listen to the end of a book. That is the only reason why I finished this one. I just could not get into it at all. Bouncing from woman to woman (including his sister), getting an education but not a decent job, having a father who is bankrupt but wealthy ...to roaming in the Amazon after being duped by another woman. I saw no connection to any of the sections, did not find any of the situations believeable and could not identify with any of the characters.

Truly, maybe I am too old. But I doubt it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Irony...and a fantastic reader

I wanted to write a review to praise Patrick Frederic--his reading was wonderful, and added profound dimension and variety to this dialogue-rich book. However, I'm surprised to see so many other reviewers critiquing the ending as advocacy for democratic socialism. Dude: IRONY. He bought into an ideology wholesale, so to speak, and a rather banal one at that (democratic socialism is hardly a revolutionary concept in most of the world). Is that self-determination? What is self-determination, anyway? I think the book asks this question deftly. I was disappointed in the ending for other reasons--it seemed rushed and left many characters unresolved--but I thought the author brought home a particularly subtle and ironic point. Perhaps it was too subtle. Ah well. In any event, MAJOR props to Patrick Frederic. More novels from him, please, please.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • kansas city, MO, United States
  • 01-31-11

good ending..

well worth the credit.. i liked it overall.. funny at times.. great ending.... waiting for another one.

  • Overall
  • Al
  • 01-04-06

Indecision, decisively terrible

I don't normally write reviews, but I felt compelled in this case so that you do not suffer the same plight as me in listening to this book.

The book is about a guy who is chronically indecisive. This could be a great premise for a comedy, but instead the book turns into a preachy book about "democratic socialism". The book says that if you are involved in a corporation then you are responsible for poverty in third world countries and that you should go over there and help them.

I do not get audiobooks to be preached at, I get them to be entertained, and this book was not entertaining.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeffrey
  • Silver Spring, MD, USA
  • 01-01-06

Farce or Philosophy?

What started out sounding like a comical look inside a young man's head struggling with himself while approaching a life transition, spirals away from the witty internal dialogue into a tedious lesson in the discovery of "democratic socialism". I couldn't tell if this became Kunkel's agenda to proselytize or if the struggle and transition that he attempted to write about really just became that absurd. What started as witty became tedious and painful. Though I did make it to the end of this book, I wish that I hadn't.

  • Overall
  • Camrog
  • Kenmore, WA USA
  • 12-05-05

Fun but light

Enjoyable listen ... but a bit predictable in the end. Okay if you're looking for something light ...