Friday, January 14, 2011

The Ingram Interview by K. B. Dixon

The Ingram Interview by K.B. Dixon
Copyright 2011
Inkwater Press - General Fiction
121 pages

Mrs. Syms . . . was a strange kind of crazy--sort of like Lee Harvey Oswald's mother. She talked a level-headed sort of nonsense. She was batshit, but she didn't seem like it--not at first, anyway.

-- from p. 52 of The Ingram Interview

I told him basically I don't like music that is decibel-dependent, painting that is concept-dependent, novels that are dialogue-dependent, or movies that are spectacle-dependent.

-- from p. 62 of The Ingram Interview

I said Mr. Mitchell [David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas] was a writer of preternatural facility and abundance, that he was an enigma to me, that the book was a linguistic extravaganza, but that I had found I didn't have a lot to say after "wow".

-- from p. 89 of The Ingram Interview

The Ingram Interview tells the story of Daniel Ingram, a retired English professor who has been very ill, possibly from a heart attack. At the beginning of the book, he is just about to be forced to leave an assisted-care facility because of his bad attitude (he's depressing the other residents). He moves in with a former student of his, Michael, and Michael's partner, Jessica. While writing his memoirs, he continues to attempt to convince his ex-wife, Emily, to return to him, slowly learns to cope with his awkward living arrangements and eventually moves on to another assisted-care facility. Told entirely in interview format, the book is described in the cover blurb as "unrepentantly quirky".

What I loved about this book:

You can tell from the selection of quotes, above, that the author does indeed have a unique and very quirky style of storytelling. The Ingram Interview is my second read by K. B. Dixon (I read and reviewed The Sum of His Syndromes in December of 2009) and I've found there are lots of gems to be mined from his books. They're short but densely packed with thought-provoking, savvy, wise and often funny observations.

What I disliked about the book:

I felt a little adrift as I was reading The Ingram Interview, to be honest. I talked to the author, Ken, about the book and mentioned that I thought perhaps the large come-and-go cast might have something to do with my confusion. Ken told me he thought of the book as a character study. During most of the book Ingram is simply existing, waiting for Emily, hoping she'll show up and observing the people who walk in and out of his life.

The interview format became a little tiresome to me, also. I think as a character study the book is done well. I'd hoped more would happen and that's really just because I have a preference for lots of action in a book. The author told me he considered naming the book "Waiting for Emily" but thought it might sound a bit self-aggrandizing to use a title that played on the title of a famous work (Waiting for Godot). Personally, I think "Waiting for Emily" would have been an excellent title choice.

The bottom line: WARNING - This part might be considered a spoiler. Skip it if you don't want to know how the book ends.

While this book didn't really work well for me, I think those who prefer characterization to plot will appreciate the way Ingram goes from lonely curmudgeon awaiting his death and hoping his ex-wife will return to him to accepting his lot in life and learning to live, again.

End of spoiler warning. We now return to our regularly scheduled babbling.

Cover thoughts: I love the cover. It's simple and eye-catching. Since Ingram has had a serious brush with death and is obviously aware that he doesn't have all the time in the world, I think it also fits the book quite nicely.

In other news:

Yesterday sucked. I guess I had a stomach virus. Whatever it was, I was sick enough that I didn't manage to summon the strength to read or check email. Boy, am I relieved that's over. If you're going to be sick, you ought to at least be able to read, don't you think?

Fiona only came in to say "hello" once (at least that I remember), but Isabel kept returning. During the times I managed to sit up, she climbed up onto my shoulder and purred in my ear. I love that. Today, she's being a total hellion. I think Fiona needs a vacation. After yesterday, I'm pretty sure I could use one, too.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I have a copy of this book sitting here awaiting my reading and review, too. I read and reviewed A Painter's Life by the same author and was impressed by all the thought provoking observations in that one, as you were with this one. I enjoy the quirkiness of his story telling, but I found myself often coming across characters in A Painter's Life that I'd already forgotten and having to flip back through the pages to figure out who they were again. It took me a while to just let them go since they didn't seem to be of any great significance to Dixon's purposes anyway. Looking forward to checking this one out!

    Sorry to hear you had such a rotten day yesterday and glad you're feeling better. Isn't it nice when it seems like your cat is "taking care of you"? My cat has his moments where he seems quite sympathetic to my misfortunes. :)

  2. Megan,

    I didn't have that problem with The Sum of His Syndromes, but it's nice to know because I really like his writing. If I'd realized characters were going to go in and out of Ingram's life, as they did, I wouldn't have tried so hard to keep up with the entire cast. It just ended up bogging me down. It's those "thought-provoking observations" that will bring me back to this author's work.

    Thanks. I'm still in recovery mode, here, but I ate some pumpkin lasagna from one of the cookbooks in my sidebar (husband made it while I snoozed) and it seems to have gone down well.

    It is really sweet the way Isabel hangs out with me. She's adorable and very sensitive. :)

  3. Hope you're feeling better! That crud has been all over town and I hope I don't catch it. Had it a year ago and that was AWFUL!

    Off to catch up on your posts. I've been away far too long. Sorry!!!!!

  4. Les,

    I'm tired but feeling much better, thanks. I hope you don't get it, too! Husband cooked one of the recipes from The Daniel Fast (a cookbook in my sidebar), Pumpkin Lasagna (sounds awful but it was amazing) and it's the first thing I've eaten that *didn't* lead to a stomach ache in days. I think I'm in love with that cookbook.

    Happy blog-hopping!

  5. It does sound a bit awful, but if you say it's amazing, I might have to try it. Care to share the recipe? Oh, wait. My husband hates pumpkin. Scratch that.

  6. I'll have to find this. Darn it, I meant to bookmark this for tomorrow so I could put it on the Excel sheet.

    Sorry, don't mind me, I had a migraine when I read this this morning and apparently the absence of pain is making me loopy.

  7. Les,

    Well, forget that, then. LOL It doesn't taste all that pumpkiny, since it's also got onions and spinach, but Rod might still object. I'm not sure if I can fit the recipe on the blog. It's pretty long -- very healthy stuff, lots of chopping involved.


    It's okay, I'm a little loopy, myself. I think I've got kind of a sick hangover. Blah.

  8. I'm so glad you're on the mend today. Stomach stuff is the WORST.

    Thanks for stopping by my new blog, I think that means I have 3 readers now: you and my parents! Anyway, it looks like we'll be leaving Italy in the spring. I'm in complete denial about it because that's absolutely the best way to deal with things.

    Take care!

  9. I love the sound of this book! Definitely goes on my TBR list.

    While being sick enough to need to stay in bed and read is not bad, so sick that you can't read or even rest is awful. Hoping you've recovered sufficiently to return to reading!

  10. Nikki,

    Well, I was on the mend. I seem to be having a little relapse, today. I'm going to be bummed if I end up sleeping all day, again. I want to read!!!

    LOL Your readers will find you. It's been so long since you posted regularly that I'm sure it'll take a few days, but I like what you've done. Sorry you have to leave Italy. I'm all for denial. I probably excel at denial.


    Do you want my copy? I'm sure the author would appreciate 2 blog reviews for the price of one. If you do, just write me at bookfoolery at gmail dot com with your address and I'll pop it in the mail when I feel better. I'm having a bit of a relapse, today, so I think I'm about to head back to bed. Major bummer.

  11. I did a search to see if anyone had written about this book, and arrived here! I must have missed this post. I just did a book report on it yesterday. I think I liked it better than you. :<)

  12. Nan,

    That's so funny. I love your little sheep avatar -- had to say that before I forget. I'm glad you liked it. I loved the book I read by Dixon, last year, but The Ingram Affair just didn't work for me. And, yet, there were bits and pieces that I loved. I have two pages of quotes. :)


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!