The Ingram Interview
"As a rule I have a tendency to be in favor of moderation—except when it comes to temperature. Sixty degrees, like it is today, is roughly speaking the climatic equivalent of the middle way. It’s bland—like modesty. It’s probably my least favorite temperature. It’s neither stimulating nor stupefying. It’s blah—like chicken broth."
The Ingram Interview, K.B. Dixon's unrepentantly quirky novel, weaves its way interrogatively through the life of Daniel Ingram, a retired, none-too-healthy English professor who has been kicked out of an assisted-care facility because he was depressing other residents. Moving in temporarily with a former student of his—a young art-film maker named Michael Berger—Daniel works fitfully on a ramshackle memoir as he continues to pursue a reconciliation with his absent ex-wife.
National Indie Excellence Book Award Finalist
Dixon's novels are "lean, tight, minimalist, quizzical, modern, urban. He's an acute observer with a humorous, slightly jaundiced eye, and he takes wry pleasure in playing around with literary form." Bob Hicks, Art Scatter
"An engaging impression of a man cut adrift...Comic and cutting, pithy and... profound." J. David Santen Jr., The Oregonian
Excerpts from The Ingram Interview
WHERE ARE YOU?
I am at Fairview Court.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
I'm sitting in a folding chair at the back of the community room—this morning a makeshift auditorium—watching rehearsals for this month’s talent show. I am dressed in my usual sweatshirt and wrinkled khakis. If you were watching, you would have seen me sneak a peek at my watch (a doubloon-sized thing purchased twenty years ago from the Swiss Army) because even though I have tried often to change my ways, I remain one of those loathsome retentive types obsessed with time and I have—in thirty-one minutes—a meeting scheduled with the perpetually gracious Catherine Cain.
WHAT IS FAIRVIEW COURT?
Fairview Court is—or has been for the past four months—my home; what, in today’s euphemizing parlance, would be called a “continued care facility.” It is a crossbred thing (like a jackalope or a tangelo)—half hospital, half hotel.
WHY ARE YOU HERE?
I am here because I am old—or oldish (62)—and have apparently suffered some sort of heart attack. I say “apparently” because the boys in white have not been able to reach consensus on a definitive diagnosis—a thing I try not to let trouble me more than it should. All we know for sure is that I went to bed one night feeling fine, and I woke up the next morning ruined. I collapsed on my way to the bathroom.
IS IT A NICE PLACE, 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: a guarantee that my uniqueness will be honored and that I will be respected for the special individual I am.
And it comes with a certain saccharine ambience—an institutional commitment to the ceaseless expression of an unwavering conviviality.
WHO IS REHEARSING?
I have been watching Quinton Kohl, our resident hypnotist. His new best friend (and current stage-patsy), Theodore, does not seem to be particularly susceptible to Quinton's mesmeristical charms. He will not bark like a dog—not yet anyway. But Quinton is nothing if not hopeful.
Right now on stage though is Edward Manning. Edward is trying to put the finishing touches on a polish-up of his juggling-on-rollerskates routine. He is seventy-one years old and comically vain. He flaunts his sense of balance every chance he gets because he is one of those needling weasels who thrives on the envy of others. It is excruciating to watch my provisional friends over there—Simon, Richard, David—try to turn their feelings of unalloyed hatred into believable facsimiles of sincere admiration, but in craven deference to the guiding feel-good principles of the place, they invariably do. I think Edward gets away with this heartless tease in part because of his jowly face. Everyone thinks he looks sad; they do not want to add to his troubles.
I can see Edward has gotten a little rusty since his last outing. His steadiness is not quite so insultingly certain. I can also see from that look of grim resolve that he is committed to recovering his form. He is determined to show us all that he is incomparable. He is determined to show us all that he is a phenomenon. I tried to talk him into skating a little closer to the edge of the stage. I told him if he truly wanted to impress us, he would introduce an element of danger into the act—but predictably enough he ignored me.