Monday, October 31, 2005

Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel took me a long time to read even though, at 241 pages, it's fairly short. I suppose I went into it thinking I would hate it. I actually thought I would just read the first few pages and then ditch it. And it was annoying at first. But then I got sucked in and wanted to keep reading. This actually happened every time I came back to it. I mean, it's been compared to Catcher in the Rye (which I haven't read since I was a teenager), but what is soul searching and deeply meaningful at age 17 isn't quite as endearing when the character is 27 instead. That's not to say I didn't empathize - men don't have a monopoly on inertia and feelings of mediocrity. Then something from left field, like the random mild incestuous feelings, would put me off initially, only to end up making a good point, as in this comment from Dwight's sister Alice, "The reason you have this idea is that I'm the one girl you actually got to know in the right way. It was gradual, it was inevitable - obviously we didn't have any choice in the matter. There wasn't all this deformingly distinctive and abrupt self-preservation that constitutes contemporary urban dating, where you always have to give your stunted personality the hard sell - the hooks, the slogans, the shtick. Where right away you always try to imply Me, me, I belong to your demographic - and no one else ever will." See what I mean? The central idea, it seems, is illustrated in this bit from his mother, "Don't you think, Dwight...that in New York you can become more inert than you notice. You can mistake the city's commotion for your own." The answer Kunkel proposes to alleviate this state of busy nothingness is to become politically active and work to better the world for those less fortunate - "...that what's happiest is just to be alive and sensitive when it comes to feeling the world..." I'm not quite sure he earns this conclusion, although after thinking about it for a couple of days, I think he might. I don't know. I can't quite decide how I feel about the book. I did enjoy it, but I didn't feel compelled to finish it quickly, which is why it took so bloody long to read. It wasn't bad, but I'm not enthusiastically putting it at the top of my best of the year list, either. It is worth reading though. How's that for a recommendation?

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