Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Ingram Interview by K.B. Dixon

Behold, the mythical midweek book review (ironically posted on a weekend)! I'm not talking about a book review posted midweek. That's just a trick of scheduling. I'm talking about the book review actually written on a week night after working and running errands to the grocery store and emptying the dishwasher and loading the dishwasher again and maybe watching that Dancing With the Stars results show. Seeing a weeknight written book review here on Leafing Through Life is akin to seeing a unicorn traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike in search of a good Cinnabon (the only really worthwhile reason for traveling the turnpike, of course) or actually finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow before the leprechaun. It's a mark of the utter nightmare my review backlog (further exacerbated by the whole "Ow, my wrist is destroyed at the tender age of 27!" thing) has become that this post even exists such as it is. Enough of this, though. I've got books to review. Lots of them. And they refuse to review themselves!

Last year, author K.B. Dixon sent me a copy of his book, A Painter's Life for review. It was a short, unusually written book full of quirk and flashes of brilliant insight. Having enjoyed it, when he contacted me with an offer of his latest, The Ingram Interview, I was happy to accept.

The Ingram Interview is a compact book that begins shortly after retired English professor Daniel Ingram is asked to leave his assisted-living home for being too much of a downer for the other residents. Told entirely in an interview format that recalls the most self-indulgent of inane documentaries, the interview follows Ingram as he moves in with a former student, an indie filmmaker, and his girlfriend, attempts to find a new assisted-living facility, cobbles together his memoirs and attempts to reconcile with his mostly absent ex-wife.

Ingram's is an interesting perspective on life and old age. As an aging, infirm retiree he's turned from literary analysis to cynically analyzing the people and things around him, and to reflection on the minutiae of his past. Ingram's slightly pompous dissection of the mundanity of everyday life are an interesting and sometimes humorous juxtaposition.

Who is Colin Wake?

The man who is supposed to take my picture for the Greenhurst Alumni Magazine... He wants to make me look if not famous, at least significant - like someone from an earlier, more serious time. He posed me just off to the left of an ornately framed window, my chin up, my focus on posterity.

I don't like the finished product at all. I look grave and unhappy - like someone channeling Sartre or waiting in line at the post office.

If you're interested in reading a book that's a little different but still smart and entertaining, definitely give Dixon a try. Dixon's clever treatment of everyday events that you and I can easily relate to is there in The Ingram Interview, just as I enjoyed it in A Painter's Life. That said, I would probably urge you to start with A Painter's Life rather than The Ingram Interview. While I enjoyed the book, I found it harder with The Ingram Interview to keep track of the characters that pop up in the interview at various times, and it added to to a pre-existing feeling that it was all just a touch over my head, whether it really was or not.

Me, I am afraid of all sorts of things: I'm afraid I will be late; I'm afraid the refrigerator will stop working; I'm afraid the car will stop working; I'm afraid the television will stop working; I'm afraid I will have to have a filling replaced or a tooth pulled; I'm afraid the price of my favorite wine will go up; I'm afraid the bookstore on the corner will close; I'm afraid the waitress at my pizza place will leave; I'm afraid I will make a wrong turn, get lost, and as a consquence, have a part of my life - a part I will never get back - eaten by anxiety and stress.

(Thanks to the author for the review copy!)

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