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Friday, March 18, 2011

The Ingram Interview by K.B. Dixon



The Ingram Interview is described as "unrepentantly quirky."  I can't disagree; it is also very funny--wryly, tongue-in-cheek funny.  

The novel is in the form of  q & a sessions with Daniel Ingram, a retired English professor who tells the interviewer (never named) in the first session that he is in "'a continued care facility.'  It is a crossbred thing (like a jackalope or a tangelo)--half hospital, half hotel."  He is there because he has suffered an apparent heart attack.

 He describes Fairview: 
"Let's just say it is not an un-nice place.  A little small perhaps and banally decorated in beiges and muted mauves--it offers a full set of amenities.  There is a pleasant dining room, a staff of medical professionals, weekly housekeeping and laundry services, art classes, exercise classes, craft classes--etc., etc., etc.,  It also offers a guarantee that my uniqueness will be honored and that I will be respected for the special individual I am."

While his description is accurate and amusing as far as attempts to make assisted care facilities more home-like, the last line is most intriguing.  Promises that guarantee to honor uniqueness and specialness have achieved such a degree of political correctness as to sound  priggish, unctuous, empty, and insincere.  I have no doubt that Daniel uttered the words without emphasis, but that he thought them b-s.

And as we soon discover, Daniel is about to be asked to find another place to live because he is depressing other residents.  Daniel is quietly satiric; the situation is amusingly ironic.

There is no great plot.  The interviewer asks Daniel questions and follows him through his move to his next temporary stay with a former student, and on to another assisted living facility.  Daniel answers questions--about the people he knows, his attempts at writing a memoir, his hope of re-uniting with his wife, his former student's process of making a film,  and so on.  Very documentary style.

What is amusing is the understated, phlegmatic responses Daniel gives, which reveal a witty almost sotto vocce feel.  They can be taken at face value, as they are factual, but they leave me with a feeling that Daniel takes quiet pleasure in inserting  ambivalence into his remarks.  

Mind you, Daniel is only 62 years old and a former college professor.  He is often surrounded by individuals who are older, less educated, or like his former student and his girlfriend--much younger.  He is  not among his peers, although he never appears to be terribly uncomfortable.  He is never harsh or mean, and his aim is often at his own habits and behavior.

A very short book, but one that I found made me smile.  (I've been pretty lucky in the last few books.)

 Thanks again, Nancy, for sharing this one!

---
I'm adding a link to  Nan's review (Letter's From a Hill Farm).

Fiction.  Contemporary.  2011.  121 pages.

7 comments:

Nan said...

I have such a fondness for this book, and for Daniel. Very nice review, Jenclair.

jenclair said...

Nan, I've added a link to your review! Yes, I ended up thoroughly enjoying this definitely quirky little book and with a great fondness for Daniel.

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

Books with wit are my favorite! I will have to check this one out. Thanks for the review!

jenclair said...

Lisa - I really enjoyed it. It is not exactly a novel, given the format, but it is funny and, of course, something I can identify with having seen assisted living with my father and being 62, myself!

Bookfool said...

I must have just been in the wrong mood for this book. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :)

jenclair said...

Nancy -- Maybe your aren't old enough to appreciate it! I'm the same age as Daniel think it helped me identify with him. :)

Bookfool said...

Could be!