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The Ask: A Novel Hardcover – March 2, 2010

3.2 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010: How can a life so miserable be so funny? Is it because the stakes are so low (Milo Burke, the antihero of Sam Lipsyte's novel, The Ask, is a failure at many things, but most prominently at his job of pulling in major donors for a deadwater arts program at a middling university neither you nor he care about), or because they are so high (among them death, love, and the general squandering of the glories of creation on trivia)? Lipsyte's brilliant bile earned his previous novel, Home Land, one of the most passionate cult followings in recent years, and in The Ask that verbal invention is often the only thing that can rouse Milo and his peers from their ennui. They bait and badger each other and toss off complex cultural analyses to little effect, all the while haunted by the gap between wit and wisdom. Lipsyte manages to be both sour and tender to his characters, Milo in particular, whose barest shambles toward self-respect come to seem like the first baby steps of an honorable quest. --Tom Nissley

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lipsyte's pitch-black comedy takes aim at marriage, work, parenting, abject failure (the author's signature soapbox) and a host of subjects you haven't figured out how to feel bad about yet. This latest slice of mucked-up life follows Milo Burke, a washed-up painter living in Astoria, Queens, with his wife and three-year-old son, as he's jerked in and out of employment at a mediocre university where Milo and his equally jaded cohorts solicit funding from the Asks, or those who financially support the art program. Milo's latest target is Purdy Stuart, a former classmate turned nouveau aristocrat to whom Milo quickly becomes indentured. Purdy, it turns out, needs Milo to deliver payments to Purdy's illegitimate son, a veteran of the Iraq War whose titanium legs are fodder for a disgruntlement that makes the chip on Milo's shoulder a mere speck of dust by comparison. Submission is the order of the day, but where Home Land had a working-class trajectory, this takes its tone of lucid lament to the devastated white-collar sector; in its merciless assault on the duel between privilege and expectation, it arrives at a rare articulation of empire in decline. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374298912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374298913
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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on March 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
33 comments| 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 4, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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on April 23, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
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on April 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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on August 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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