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The Ask A Novel (Paperback)

Author:  Sam Lipsyte
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The Ask Lipsyte, Sam 1 of 1
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Learn more about The Ask:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 0312680635
ISBN-13: 9780312680633
Sku: 217024474
Publish Date: 3/1/2011
Dimensions:  (in Inches) 8.25H x 5.5L x 0.75T
Pages:  320
See more in Literary
America, said Horace, the office temp, was a run-down and demented pimp. (from the first line)
Grasping after odd jobs to support his wife and child, university fundraiser Milo Burke is offered one last chance by his former employer: He must reel in a potential donor--a major ask--who turns out to be Milo''s sinister college classmate. And the give won''t come cheap.
From the Publisher:

A New York Times Bestseller||A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice||Milo Burke—husband, father, development officer at a third-tier university—has just joined the burgeoning class of the newly unemployed. Grasping after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is relieved to get another chance from his former boss. All he has to do is reel in a potential donor who, mysteriously, has requested Milo’s involvement. Exploring such themes as work, war, sex, class, child rearing, romantic comedies, Benjamin Franklin, cooking shows on death row, and the eroticization of chicken wire, The Ask is a hilarious tour de force from a writer who has already shown that the deepest fictions are often the funniest.

The consistently hilarious Sam Lipsyte expands the parameters of his humorous portraits of pathos, as he uses the trials of a sporadically employed flunkee named Milo Burke to evoke the sorry status quo of contemporary America. Burke once dreamed of artistic achievement, but he never did anything about it, which explains why he is trapped in a dull marriage and a low-level position soliciting funds for a local college. When he is threatened with the loss of these meager anchors of his existence, Burke resorts to chasing after an old schoolmate named Purdy Stuart in the hopes of a job-saving donation, but it turns out that Stuart, a legless veteran of the Iraq War, plans to use Burke as a pawn to enact his own brand of virulence on the world. Lipsyte masterfully milks a series of societal taboos for laughter and insight, as he sardonically dismantles humanity's most treasured façades, including marriage, parenthood, career, class, education, sex, and patriotism. Selected by the New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of 2010.


"The author's most ambitious work yet--a brilliant and scabrously entertaining rift on contemporary America....Once again, Lipsyte creates main character whose lacerating, hyper-eloquent wit is directed both outward at the world...and inward...As it goes on one can't help noticing, beneath the fevered playfulness, a deeply earnest moral vision akin to that of Joseph Heller or Stanley Elkin." (starred review) 11/01/2009

"[THE ASK] 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." (starred review) 09/28/2009

"Lipsyte's third novel, a darkly humorous story of sons and fathers, is both his most realistic and convulsively hilarious to date....Seriously funny, Lipsyte sits alongside such illustrious Daves as Gates, Eggers, and Foster Wallace on the self-conscious shelf, but with a heartfelt brilliance all his own." (starred review) - David Wright 12/01/2009

"Lipsyte's sentences...exhilarate by providing a sense of just what's possible when it comes to unbridled thought, 'unbridled' meaning not only startlingly associative but transgressive as well....There's a surreal giddiness to the resourcefulness of the perversity here, in the face of failure's crushing banality, as if all the mastery unmanageable in life is on display in this secret life: these utterly performative messages in a bottle to the reader." - Jim Shepard 02/01/2010

"[Lipsyte's] characters are intelligent, even hyperintelligent...but finally their weakness is near-infinite. And that's why this book is a success: not only the belly laughs but also the sadness attendant upon the cultural failure it describes. There's a genuine disappointment visible through the cynic's jibes--the grief that comes with the end of empire and the collapse of an ideal." - Lydia Millet 03/07/2010

Product Attributes

Product attributeeBooks:   Kobo
Product attributeBook Format:   Paperback
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0320
Product attributePublisher:   Picador USA
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