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Indecision

2.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,199 ratings  ·  379 reviews
Dwight Wilmerding, twenty-eight, is having a midlife crisis. And there's an even bigger problem: his chronic inability to make up his mind.

Encouraged to try a drug meant to banish indecision, he is all at once fired from his low-grade tech-support job in Manhattan and invited to a rendezvous in exotic Ecuador with the girl of his long-ago prep-school dreams. Unable to
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 7th 2006 by Picador (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 2.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,199 ratings  ·  379 reviews


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Michelle
Jul 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: 28-year-old self-indulgent males and/or the women who love them
Shelves: novels, fuckin-sucks
Blah blah blah. "I can't make up my fucking mind." {Waaaah. Join the fucking club.} Blah blah blah. Experimental drug. Casual sex. Covered with hair. Blah blah blah. Fly to Ecuador to get laid but sort of find meaning/purpose instead but don't write about it very well or very effectively. Blah blah blah. Who gives a shit.
Greg
May 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
What is wrong with me?

Much like the character in this novel I couldn't make up my mind what to give this book. I waffled between two and three stars; but I didn't hate this book. I hated parts of the book, but I didn't hate the book. As far as vapid young writers go, one could do worse.

But don't I have it on good authority that this book sucks donkey balls?

Yeah. And it does. The narrator is a kind of whiny, self-absorbed elitist who can't make up his mind about anything, but knows that life
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Michael
Jun 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The real indecision here comes in how long you waver before finally giving up on this book. The story meanders aimlessly in a pseudo-philosophical fog that is neither amusing (as advertised on the cover) or in any other way interesting. The premise--a chronically indecisive loser in his late 20's (allegedly representing a whole generation to which I happen to belong--needless to say, I don't agree with the categorization) is offered a miracle drug to relieve his indecision--could be interesting. ...more
Cristina
Mar 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
This book embodies the crap I've come to expect from precocious, over-educated hipsters. Granted, there were a few insightful sentences that I really liked. But christ, where do I even begin. The characters blow -- Kunkel thinks he's representing my generation, when really all these characters are just one-dimensional charicatures. The neuroses come off as annoying instead of endearing. A 3rd grader could have come up with a better plot. I've never wanted to throw a book off the subway platform ...more
Patrick
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, really
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
JBP
Mar 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
This book is awful. I stubbornly made my way to the bitter end just to give it a single star and ravage it in this short, capsule review. Ah, the taste of semi-satisfaction. I should have looked at some of the comments of previous readers via goodreads as it would have made me pass on this irritating, phony, cooler than thou exorcise in superficiality that Kunkel has crafted. The book is lighter than a feather and has absolutely no substance to it as it tells the story of an annoying 20 ...more
Oriana
once finished: Well it has become pretty clichéd to say, but yes, it took me about fifty pages of this relatively slim volume to get over my instinctual hatred of this successful young (my age when published) writer, and just get over myself and enjoy the book. Which, shit you guys, is really fucking good.

(Quick aside: Our Benjamin Kunkel is, as is more or less required for this demographic, clearly enamored with his own writerly talents. Consequently this book can be a bit much at times,
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David
What an overhyped addition to the already overcrowded "20-something inspects navel, whines unattractively, and expects the world to care" shelf this was.
Stacey
The cover is the only redeeming quality about this book. It looks so cute!! When we chose it for book club I somehow managed to find and read aloud the ONLY two funny sentencess in the entire thing. Thinking that we had a winner, the reading commenced. Bad luck for us! The premise sounds fantastic - the book however is another story.

At the end, I faced my own Indecision - use this one to level a wobbly table leg or pass it on to someone I really, really dislike?!?
Amanda
Sep 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
I can't decide. Maybe because we were interns together ten years ago and I basically liked him, even if the rest of the interns that semester thought he was smug. Everyone said he thought he was smarter than the rest of us. What they didn't know is that they were right. He was pretty open about it and honestly, I thought he was right. So I have these misgivings about Ben himself; I want to take him down a notch, just because I do. But that's not fair. So, he's smart. Who am I to begrudge him a ...more
Bonnie Mattson
The only reason this book got two stars is because Kunkel has a talent for two things: ideas and clever turns of phrase. but these two things does not a good novel make, unfortunately. I kept reading hoping it would get better, and it didn't. it just got more and more cliche.
I am so sick of reading about the east coast bourgeois, and anything about generation whine, both of which, as a west-coast millennial, I find not in the least bit relatable and entirely contemptible.
MJ Nicholls
Jan 03, 2013 marked it as getting-even
Imagine waking up every day to a GR review page like this one. Sending Kunkel some love in 2013.

(Or am I?)
Sue Smith
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Lordy. That was bad.

Talk about life mimicking book titles - I just couldn't make up my mind if I should carry on or not. Surely it will get better with the next part, the next paragraph, ..... the next sentence. Nope. It didn't. So I decided to pull the pin on this one and carry on to a book that I will enjoy, with characters and circumstances that I will give a sh*t about - not this pathetic loser of a guy and his delusions of love and grandeur, who can't make a decision if his life depended on
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David M
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
While I'm not at all convinced the internet has made me a better or happier person, I do really appreciate Benjamin Kunkel's twitter feed. He's able to strike the perfect balance between Pessoa quotes and righteous left-wing sarcasm. See for yourself:

https://twitter.com/kunktation?lang=en

I also respect his trajectory from privileged white boy novelist with nothing to write about to autodidact Marxist intellectual. And not just any autodidact Marxist intellectual, one who really does his
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Jessie Young
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a satire, but somehow I liked it much more than Buckley's "Boomsday." I think it is because Buckley was writing a satire of the DC spin machine, which I have little inside knowledge of, and Kunkel is writing satire about confused early adulthood, which I have tons of inside knowledge of. It isn't only hilarious, but I scarily identify with a lot of Dwight's philosophizing about the insanity of it all. In the end he somehow achieves clarity through a mixture of drugs and finding purpose. ...more
Emily
Mar 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
At the beginning, Indecision seems like a slightly wacky take on a slightly "different" coming of age novel (there's a premise of a wonder pharmaceutical that cures indecision; Kunkel's narrator is not a teenager but a 20-something). The narrator prattles on for about 2/3 of the book and then the narrator does (spoiler alert) indeed take the pill and begins to make up his mind about things. Perhaps you could argue the narrator's rapid and barely motivated change of mind is Kunkel's statement ...more
Greg Linster
Oct 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: don-t-own
I really wanted to like this book because I had heard great things about Benjamin Kunkel's writing, but I just couldn't get into it. The story meanders aimlessly and it never fully captured my attention. I, however, irrationally slogged through the entire book anyway under the assumption that it would take a turn for the better at some point, but it never did.
Yulia
Jul 17, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: idiotic
The most over-hyped book of the year. Every character spoke in one-liners. The plot was contrived, the characters rather pathetic, and the ending a cheap finish. A waste of time, sad to say.
Arda
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Two stars or three stars? I am indecisive and this book is about indecision. I was leaning towards three stars, but the inconsistent tones towards the end felt more like two. Or maybe 2.5

I may well be indecisive, in general. The book made me wonder whether I am going through a midlife crisis myself. It introduced me to the term "abulia", and suggested that there may be a pill for the chronic inability to make up one's mind. Dwight is a 28-year old self-absorbed American guy who is seeing one
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Sarah Handley-Cousins
Mar 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
One of the worst books I've ever read. Insufferable characters, caricatured depictions of Latin America and Latin Americans, repulsive writing of female characters and relationships. Awful.
Dawn
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Good beginning, totally boring middle, and nice boy gets girl ending.
Hollie Lippert
Apr 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
I saw this book while making my bi-weekly rounds of my favorite used book store. "What a cool cover" I thought. And since you can most definitely begin judging a book by it's cover, I chose to read the blurb on the cover flap to see what this sweet-looking cover had inside it. In the blurb, I spotted the word "Ecuador" and some general rambling about a chronic indecisive 20-something having a quarter-life crisis brought on by disillusionment with his life which he decides to solve by traveling ...more
Chris Gager
Not sure where I picked this one up. Pretty interesting and amusing so far. Very much in the vein of "The Corrections," "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves," and "And Then We Came to the End." Post-modern lightweight??? Easy to see why J. Franzen speaks well of it.

- Similarities to "The Corrections" - the crazy family and a trip to foreign lands. Dwight and Chip are blood brothers! Plus the experimental drug thing...

- Disclaimer: I too am a preppie(Loomis) by way of Colorado and a profoundly
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Jeff
Aug 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
A decently written origin-story for every 40-something DSA member who talked at you for an hour at a party until a friend thankfully noticed your discomfort and boredom and whisked you away. It isn't poorly written, but the book is self-centered without anything interesting about the self it centers on.
Josh Friedlander
Even more than with fellow n + 1 co-founding editor Keith Gessen's All the Sad Literary Young Men, it's almost impossible to talk about this book without talking about the author's background and subsequent life choices. Like Whit Stillman in his movies, Kunkel is a WASPy prep school grad whose characters are likewise, except they're also dumb, lovable putzes. Kunkel's hero is a slacker with a Philosophy degree (his last name of Wilmerding becomes the email handle 'Wilmerdingansich', get it?) ...more
SivanNava
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Masterful Mental Masterbation. But alas- premature sputtering?
Beatifully written, with artful insights that pop right off the page. With that said, I can't help but feel Kunkel could have used another couple of years to form the plot of this book. A shame really. Talent like this should be enlightened, not rushed.

Its namesake couldn't ring more true. Was the author struck with a mid-book panic that he must deliver a solution to his afflicting abulia? If all he could surmise up for a cure:
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Matt
Aug 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book is like one of those people who skate by in life thinking that they're more charming than they are, a belief the person holds so firmly that it can actually make others believe that he/she is charming. Or the mistaken belief itself is so mistaken and so firmly believed that the error is actually charming.

Except this book isn't charming. It makes a whole host of vapid assumptions about the world which it cheerfully expects you to assume as well. It pays very careful attention to its
...more
Andrew
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yes
Fantastic coming of age novel that truly gets at the heart of the post coitus, post early twenty something experience of the semi-autonomous adult, French New Wave neophyte in America today. One criticism, the book could have been written in the 3rd person. The dialogue was unnecessarily and unconvincingly effete. The author is an essayist by trade and the novel reads that way at times to a fault. With an executioner style editor and a switching around of the narrator, I feel (though I could be ...more
Amy
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lindsay
This book just flew over my head. It's one of those books where the author uses more words than necessary to express what the character is thinking and saying. I consider it an 'intelligent' book, meaning it's complex. Now I understand why I usually stick to mystery novels, because the characters are usually pretty flakey and easy to follow. Not sure what that says about myself thought. Hmmm...
Anyway, this is supposed to be a story about Dwight who apparently has trouble making decisions so he
...more
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Benjamin Kunkel is an American novelist. Kunkel grew up in Eagle, Colorado, and was educated at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire; Kunkel studied at Deep Springs College in California, graduated with a BA from Harvard University, and received his MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University.

He co-founded and is a co-editor of the journal n+1. His novel, Indecision, was published in
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“Un peu comme lorsque je rentre d'un voyage quelque part et que tout le monde me demande comment c'était : peu à peu mes différentes réponses n'en font plus qu'une, mes impressions se resserrent sur elles-mêmes, ouais, c'est cool, là-bas, et tiens, une anecdote marrante... puis ce discours unique se substitue à la réalité du souvenir.
Du coup, j'ai franchement eu peur. J'ai ressenti cette crainte familière, soudainement intense et sincère, qu'une fois toute sensation échappée de ma vie, il ne reste plus de celle-ci qu'un cliché. Et le jour de ma mort, saint Pierre me demanderait :
- C'était comment ?
- Vraiment super, en bas. J'aimais bien la bouffe. m'enfin, avec la tourista... Bon, les gens sont tous très sympas quand même.
Et ça serait tout. (...)
Et j'ai décidé de raconter quelque chose de nouveau sur mon séjour à chaque personne qui voudrait que je lui en parle, sans me répéter une seule fois.”
3 likes
“As you grow up, and you’ll find this, you keep getting involved with larger and larger illusions that take longer and longer to fall away. The great hope is eventually to find a delusion that will outlast your life.” 3 likes
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