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2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (2,212 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Benjamin Kunkel Narrator: Patrick Frederic Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • He’s got this voice that just grabs your attention and won’t let go...Old Dwight’s book really knocked me out. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • Very funny...The prose itself offers much pleasure. Kunkel would have given Stanley Elkin a run for his money in the clever metaphor department... Because he’s young and uses big words, Kunkel may unfairly be compared to David Foster Wallace or Rick Moody, but unlike them he has succeeded in writing a novel that’s clever without being self-conscious. Dwight’s plot never plays second-fiddle to Benjamin Kunkel’s intelligence. My advice? Read this one. Washington Post Book World
  • Kunkel manages to whip up a cerebral novel that doesn’t feel overly, uh, cerebral...Funny. Village Voice
  • Do not fear Kunkel as a new Jay McInerney or Brett Easton Ellis. Neither of those writers is capable of the generosity and sweetness that dog Dwight. Neither are capable of writing so smartly funny...Read Indecision with a smile on your face. The fate of Dwight Wilmerding is zany, surprising and strangely affecting. Cleveland Plain-Dealer
  • Sophisticated...[The] prose alone strongly hints at the depth of Kunkel’s skills, which is to say, quite simply, he’s for real. The San Francisco Chronicle
  • Kunkel’s narrator has an appealingly rascally voice, and the author is expert at depicting highbrow buffoonery–at an all-night Ecstasy party, flesh and philosophy commingle to hilarious effect...crisp prose. The New Yorker
  • Kunkel tackles serious modern concerns–continued poverty in the developing world, the pervasiveness of psychotropic drugs–with dexterous linguistic chops and assured comic timing. Washington Post
  • Kunkel has succeeded in crafting a voice of singular originality. Entertainment Weekly
  • Original and enjoyable...The reader has no choice but to be swept up by this delightfully neurotic and unexpectedly original tale of quarter-life crisis-cum-adventure...At a time when many fictional works are increasingly serious and grim, a romp through Kunkel’s enjoyable and often downright silly novel is a nice reprieve...Indecision is a novel unlike any in recent memory, and in Dwight Wilmerding one discovers a genuine, fully-realized voice that echoes into the room long after the book has been set aside. Vail Daily
  • A very funny book...Lyrical and even tender...For a slim satire, Indecision brims with insight into the modern urban condition. Time Out New York
  • One of this year’s best debut novels...Sell[s] a new kind of irony that Mr. Kunkel’s contemporaries will appreciate...Dwight is already the most articulate first-person narrator you will read this fall...Brilliant. New York Sun
  • One could quote endlessly from this book, which is made of almost nothing but good lines...Dwight as a characters is silly and sometimes shrewd as well as likeable; as a narrator he’s heaven. New York Observer
  • A prototypical bildungsroman, a breezy comic account...A philosophical examination of the nature of personal freedom and responsibility in the face of impending global economic and ecological disaster. Newsday
  • This postmodern, posteverything, fresh and funny novel by a young writer seems to develop a nonironic social conscience. The New York Times Book Review
  • Indecision manages to make the whole flailing, postadolescent, prelife crisis feel fresh and funny again...Deeply satisfying...The funniest and smartest coming-of-age novel in years. Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review
  • Illuminating .. [Kunkel] can write...Indecision is a lot like doing acid: it takes about seven hours, chances of a bad trip are slight, and the whole world seems magical and foreign and invincible, something we’d want to write down and remember when our brains landed safely on earth again. V Magazine
  • A voice so compelling that ideology doesn’t override character, verisimilitude, or narrative flow...Dwight–smart but underachieving, self-effacing but self-absorbed, funny and sympathetic and a bit of a doofus–has a distinctive and irresistible voice...Engrossing. Poets & Writers
  • There are big surprises in store for both Dwight and the reader in this unusual coming-of-age story...Kunkel has a fresh voice, and this is a confident first novel. I look forward to his second. Book Page
  • A promising premise...Clever...Indecision offers lively commentary on the pros and cons of personal freedom. Booklist
  • I finished before I knew it and doubled back to read again, for fun. GQ
  • Undoubtedly novel. [Kunkel] brings us vividly into Dwight’s nerdy and nebbishy but endlessly inventive mind for a pleasurable wallow in his indecisiveness. In a voice that’s equal parts funny and serious, honest and eccentric, he constantly throws us for another loop. Elle
  • Accomplished...This entertaining book has screenplay written all over it, from the hot Dutch Natasha to the shambling cute Dwight–not to mention Harvard-educated, New York literati Kunkel himself. Publishers Weekly
  • Dwight is the kind of charming neurotic one advises one’s friends against dating, though he does, in his frayed Brooks Brothers button-downs, have a certain Holden Caulfield-like appeal...Kunkel has created what is easily the most endearingly original voice in fiction so far this year. Vogue
  • Zany...Its humor...bursts forth in several madcap and welcome scenes...A serious comment on American values and habits... A lighthearted romp through the jungle of love and life. Library Journal
  • Laughs, sex, and machete-wielding...well-paced. Kirkus Reviews
  • A comico-philosophico-socialist-engage-coming-of-age love story?  Post 9/11 cri de coeur?  Dobie Gillis with drugs and advanced degrees in philosophy and public policy?  The Marx Brothers allowing Karl to sit in for a spell?  Whatever the genre, Indecision is a wonderful novel, and Benjamin Kunkel is able to provoke deep thought and deep laughter in equal measure. Arthur Phillips, author of Prague and The Egyptologist
  • Ben Kunkel is a truly original thinker, whose ideas keep pace with the astonishing dexterity of his language. He also has the rare ability to be hilarious about serious things. In the hapless, charming Dwight Wilmerding, he has created one of those narrators whose voice you can hear in your head long after the book is finished. Nell Freudenberger, author of Lucky Girls
  • There is nothing indecisive about Benjamin Kunkel’s ability to conjure the singular voice of Dwight Wilmerding in all its savvy innocence and thorny charm. Indecision is a wise, frank, funny and stealthily big-themed novel, and Benjamin Kunkel is a writer to be reckoned with, or better yet, read. Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land
  • “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 and Mortals

  • “I read Indecision in one sitting, with much admiration and continuous pleasure. I expected it to be a comic novel, but its deep seriousness came as a surprise. The narrator is a real achievement, and the sinuous but fluent prose Kunkel gives him is perfectly matched to his perceptions: always tentative, yet precise and alert, witty in the best, most spontaneous way, also tender and generous.”

    Pankaj Mishra, author of The Romantics and An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World

  • “There is nothing indecisive about Benjamin Kunkel’s ability to conjure the singular voice of Dwight Wilmerding in all its savvy innocence and thorny charm. Indecision is a wise, frank, funny, and stealthily big-themed novel, and Benjamin Kunkel is a writer to be reckoned with, or better yet, read.”

    Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land

  • “Ben Kunkel is a truly original thinker, whose ideas keep pace with the astonishing dexterity of his language. He also has the rare ability to be hilarious about serious things. In the hapless, charming Dwight Wilmerding, he has created one of those narrators whose voice you can hear in your head long after the book is finished.”

    Nell Freudenberger, author of Lucky Girls

  • “A comico-philosophico-socialist-engage-coming-of-age love story? Post-9/11 cri de coeur?  Dobie Gillis with drugs and advanced degrees in philosophy and public policy? The Marx Brothers allowing Karl to sit in for a spell? Whatever the genre, Indecision is a wonderful novel, and Benjamin Kunkel is able to provoke deep thought and deep laughter in equal measure.”

    Arthur Phillips, author of Prague and The Egyptologist

  • “Laughs, sex, and machete-wielding…Well-paced.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Zany…Its humor…bursts forth in several madcap and welcome scenes…A serious comment on American values and habits…A lighthearted romp through the jungle of love and life.”

    Library Journal

  • “Dwight is the kind of charming neurotic one advises one’s friends against dating, though he does, in his frayed Brooks Brothers button-downs, have a certain Holden Caulfield-like appeal…Kunkel has created what is easily the most endearingly original voice in fiction so far this year.”

    Vogue

  • “Accomplished…This entertaining book has screenplay written all over it, from the hot Dutch Natasha to the shambling cute Dwight—not to mention Harvard-educated, New York literati Kunkel himself.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Undoubtedly novel. [Kunkel] brings us vividly into Dwight’s nerdy and nebbishy but endlessly inventive mind for a pleasurable wallow in his indecisiveness. In a voice that’s equal parts funny and serious, honest and eccentric, he constantly throws us for another loop.”

    Elle

  • “I finished before I knew it and doubled back to read again, for fun.”

    GQ

  • “A promising premise…Clever…Indecision offers lively commentary on the pros and cons of personal freedom.”

    Booklist

  • “There are big surprises in store for both Dwight and the reader in this unusual coming-of-age story…Kunkel has a fresh voice, and this is a confident first novel. I look forward to his second.”

    BookPage

  • “A voice so compelling that ideology doesn’t override character, verisimilitude, or narrative flow…Dwight—smart but underachieving, self-effacing but self-absorbed, funny and sympathetic and a bit of a doofus—has a distinctive and irresistible voice…Engrossing.”

    Poets & Writers

  • Indecision manages to make the whole flailing, post-adolescent, pre-life crisis feel fresh and funny again…Deeply satisfying…The funniest and smartest coming-of-age novel in years.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A prototypical bildungsroman, a breezy comic account…A philosophical examination of the nature of personal freedom and responsibility in the face of impending global economic and ecological disaster.”

    Newsday

  • “Kunkel has succeeded in crafting a voice of singular originality.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Kunkel’s narrator has an appealingly rascally voice, and the author is expert at depicting highbrow buffoonery—at an all-night Ecstasy party, flesh and philosophy commingle to hilarious effect…Crisp prose.”

    New Yorker

  • “Sophisticated…[The] prose alone strongly hints at the depth of Kunkel’s skills, which is to say, quite simply, he’s for real.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Do not fear Kunkel as a new Jay McInerney or Brett Easton Ellis. Neither of those writers is capable of the generosity and sweetness that dog Dwight. Neither are capable of writing so smartly funny...Read Indecision with a smile on your face. The fate of Dwight Wilmerding is zany, surprising and strangely affecting.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Kunkel manages to whip up a cerebral novel that doesn’t feel overly, uh, cerebral...Funny.”

    Village Voice

  • “Very funny…The prose itself offers much pleasure. Kunkel would have given Stanley Elkin a run for his money in the clever metaphor department…Because he’s young and uses big words, Kunkel may unfairly be compared to David Foster Wallace or Rick Moody, but unlike them he has succeeded in writing a novel that’s clever without being self-conscious. Dwight’s plot never plays second-fiddle to Benjamin Kunkel’s intelligence. My advice? Read this one.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • 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 and Mortals
  • I read Indecision in one sitting, with much admiration and continuous pleasure. I expected it to be a comic novel, but its deep seriousness came as a surprise. The narrator is a real achievement, and the sinuous but fluent prose Kunkel gives him is perfectly matched to his perceptions: always tentative, yet precise and alert, witty in the best, most spontaneous way, also tender and generous. Pankaj Mishra, author of The Romantics and An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World.
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Amnuck | 2/2/2014

    " So many lessons... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Joel | 1/31/2014

    " This book is an embarrassment to people in my generation. Novels should attempt the impossible task of naming that which can't defined, of making us more certain and full of wonder all at once. Benjamin Kunkel goes so far as to tell us, though his protagonist, what's missing in our lives: Democratic Socialism. Thanks a lot, asshole. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Christoph | 1/30/2014

    " I liked it, but didn't find it to be that hilarious. Maybe because I'm an overthinking 28-year-old myself.(view spoiler)[ The conclusion, while charming, was sudden and rather unmotivated. (hide spoiler)] "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Emma | 1/29/2014

    " Loved it. Thoroughly modern, fascinating main character and voice. "

  • > Show All
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