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The Ask: A Novel Paperback – March 1, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
There is no part of this book that is uplifting except for the humor itself. I actually laughed out loud several times, and bookmarked a few of the choice phrases for later reference. I particularly enjoyed the laser-like precision of Milo's views on life with a 3-year old, which are really, truly, a spot-on and honest look at the frustrations (and joy) of being the parent of a young child in these times.
I would recommend this book to most of my friends, but not to my mother. I don't think she's ready for this type of language.
"The Ask" does not do this. Lipsyte keeps his feet on the firmament of bitter social satire, delivering something that is more Celine than surreal. His main character/narrator is an aging Gen Xer, an overweight archetype of the generation whose members didn't have it to begin with and still don't, unless they inherited it and invested it well. Lipsyte's narrator did not inherit. Despite his privileged upbringing, the narrator has nothing going for him except for his brilliant vocabulary and overwrought fantasies about parenthood. Lipsyte's keen eye for the most repugnant permutations of hipster cultural currency and late-day yuppie striving is unreal. Even though the novel is set in Queens and Manhattan, everyone 30-40 will find something recognizable. It is a fun game. When he gets going, Lipsyte can flip out dialogue and diatribe that makes the book worth reading.
However, fans of social satire will notice that Lipsyte pretty much contents himself with the low-hanging fruit: reality TV, ideological day care disasters, Internet porn, bitter Iraqi vets, corporate greed, Bushwick, over-priced hind milk, male infantilism, postmodern critical theory, meth . . . everything you'd expect to find in the Great Unamerican Novel. It's been done. It's all over the "interweb," a term the narrator loathes. See, e.g., [...] (pretty much the same satirical game done just as well).
Lipsytes knows this.Read more ›
Sam Lipsyte's The Ask put me in mind of nothing less than Joseph Heller's two great works of literary and cultural satire, Catch-22 and Something Happened. In The Ask, everything and everyone is evil and stupid in the most banal of ways -- simply because the culture calls upon everyone to act contrary to the way they know things should be. It's not only that politically correctness has run amok; it's that social relationships, even down to the nuclear family, have been shattered and atomized and digitized and because everything has been blown up into hyper-reality when there's no core reality.
The Ask tells an utterly ridiculous story featuring ridiculous people who are all the object of ridicule at their own hands and at the hands of their creator, Lipsyte. That the story is so real, and that you can't put it down, makes it all the more urgent and of our time. I can't think of another novel that so captures this cultural, economic, social, and political moment in America than Sam Lipsyte's The Ask. Isn't this what we want from our art, our literature?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's just so snarky. The author does write well. The dialogue is clever and I guess the constant cynicism may resonate with some but not only do I not know why anyone would want... Read morePublished 14 months ago by JOE BRAUNWARTH
Not an amazing plot, but this becomes a really fun read when you consider the quality of the character sketches and the wonderful and playful use of language. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Paul Moser
Readers who have problems with this book seem to want it to be a sort of book it sets out to undermine (eviscerate?) and side-step. Read morePublished 19 months ago by maggie cutler
If you enjoy funny books but want to feel smart at the same time, this is the book for you. You'll learn about arts, philosophy, history, the social landscape of university... Read morePublished on December 24, 2013 by Lawrence Hon
Really dug this guy's writing style. Razor sharp dialog, and the prose really sings to my inner cynic. Read morePublished on September 4, 2013 by Bloated Boy
This well written, fast paced book is just what I needed. It was intelligent, funny and a slice of life.
I will now look to read other Lipsyte novels.
Many reviewers have given a variety of opinions, so I will confione myself to an issue I have with the novel. Read morePublished on May 27, 2013 by Edgar W. Bridges
I laughed my way through this book. What an unexpected delight! I have to wonder how the author is able to keep the tempo up like he did throughout his writing process. Read morePublished on May 10, 2013 by Nevisnice
I cannot believe some of the poor reviews given this book. I thought that it was the funniest novel that I read last year and rate it among the 4 or 5 best novels overall that I... Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by Todd Moore