I just finished Benjamin Kunkel’s smart and irreverent novel, ‘Indecision.’ My father brought the book all the way from Lake Placid, New York, still taped up in its Amazon.com cardboard box. Yes, I ordered it online, because some website told me it was one of the top reads on Latin America rightthisminute.
Oh, well. The book wasn’t really about Latin America, unless you count a white, 20-something dude’s stumblings through the Ecuadorian jungle, but the book drew me in nevertheless and surprised me at the end. I have to say I recommend it, even though this guy, this protagonist I suspect is modeled on Kunkel himself, is everything I roll my eyes at. The narrator, named Dwight of all things, is this kind of lazy IT rep who rolls into work each morning at 10 AM, golfs and drinks with his father on weekends, hits on his sister, and bats girlfriends around like they’re whiffleballs. I shook my head all the way to the end, when Dwight whips out a memoir in about two weeks and now it’s in my hands and the NYTimes loved it.
Still, for how obnoxious the guy sometimes was, he was freaking clever, too. The way he describes his trip to Ecuador is pretty hilarious, and he invents some darn funny words.
Anyway, decide for yourselves, dear readers! Meanwhile, an excerpt that spoke to me:
Meanwhile I let myself hope that to publish this memoir on the growth of my mind may bring these issues more notice than our press releases attract. But I don´t mean to bring you down as a reader, and one main effort of my life is to try not to spoil my own mood. Currently the party line I give myself, and do in part believe, is that what´s happiest is just to be alive and sensitive when it comes to feeling the world, and if what your senses, honed beyond usefulness, end up registering is so much suffering out there that you become light-headed with it at times - well, those senses can be used for words on a page, a loved mammal in your arms, music (including sad kinds, and anyway this is only the tip of a list anyone could assemble. I know my list is basic but maybe to utter banalities is a type of solidarity in these lonelifying times?