Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel
A Novel

72%

13 Critic Reviews

Those who don’t become impossibly annoyed with the hapless, initially whiny lead will enjoy seeing this well-paced tale through to the end.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.
 

About Benjamin Kunkel

See more books from this Author
Benjamin Kunkel grew up in Colorado. He has written for Dissent, The Nation, and the The New York Review of Books, and is a founding editor of n+1 magazine.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published August 30, 2005 by Random House. 256 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Indecision
All: 13 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Above average
on Jun 15 2005

Those who don’t become impossibly annoyed with the hapless, initially whiny lead will enjoy seeing this well-paced tale through to the end.

Read Full Review of Indecision: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jay McInerney on Aug 28 2005

Kunkel 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.

Read Full Review of Indecision: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Todd McEwen on Dec 09 2005

The charm and surprise of Indecision make it eminently worth reading.

Read Full Review of Indecision: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

AV Club

Below average
on Oct 05 2005

The book's self-consciousness can be crippling to the narrative.

Read Full Review of Indecision: A Novel | See more reviews from AV Club

Slate

Good
on Oct 03 2005

I like that Kunkel has written a novel about belief, and it's exciting to see someone in my peer group wrestling with such questions.

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About.com

Good

Indecision is very entertaining in its comic-philosophical musings, and the pacing makes for a fast read.

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Boston.com

Good
on Sep 18 2005

Kunkel's novel also shows real promise, the hint of powerful tales to come.

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London Review of Books

Above average

This is a novel, after all, and a novel that isn’t afraid of adventure.

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New York Observer

Above average
on Oct 03 2005

Kunkel’s book does preserve our little collective forever—or until the remainder bin of history claims it.

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The Sunday Times

Below average
on Jan 01 2006

Unfortunately, the novel comes unglued in its second half, when the scene shifts from New York to Central America.

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Ben Casnocha

Good
on Oct 06 2006

I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more Benjamin Kunkel writing.

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Critical Mob

Excellent
on Apr 11 2006

Dwight perfectly illustrates the daunting yet oh-so-common question of how to decide what to do with a life, and he makes Indecision a decidedly joyous occasion to read.

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The Austinist

Above average
on Sep 20 2005

For a writer of Kunkel's caliber, it feels like a dodge.

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Reader Rating for Indecision
50%

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