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The Ask (2010)

by Sam Lipsyte

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7914027,940 (3.35)14
Milo Burke, a development officer at a third-tier university, has "not been developing": after a run-in with a well-connected undergrad, he finds himself among the burgeoning class of the newly unemployed. Grasping after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is offered one last chance by his former employer: he must reel in a potential donor who has requested Milo's involvement...… (more)
  1. 10
    Home Land by Sam Lipsyte (raistlinsshadow)
  2. 00
    Idiopathy by Sam Byers (hairball)
    hairball: The Ask does a similar subject far better than Idiopathy.
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» See also 14 mentions

English (38)  Italian (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Black, black humor. Can't wait to get home and read more. ( )
  monicaberger | Jan 22, 2024 |
Hilarious. Loved all the stuff involving the narrator's young son and his preschool ( )
  AlexThurman | Dec 26, 2021 |
A dark, modern comedy with ruined-relationship ends strewn through old friendships and fiendish colleagues, Milo Burke goes through life in a seemingly endless game where he's suddenly rehired at his old job, specifically to successfully lure a big donation from an old friend.

Lipsyte's second most-used weapon is using the protagonist as a simple prop to display interesting characters and milieus, but his forté is wordplay; sometimes, he seems to me a bit like an old man trying to play younger than he really is:

He was the kind of man you could picture barking into a field phone, sending thousands to slaughter, or perhaps ordering the mass dozing of homes. People often called him War Crimes. By people, I mean Horace and I. By often, I mean twice.


Other times, he mashes words into something new:

"I mean," I said now, "I used to know him." "Well, that's just swell," said Cooley, rose, petted his mustache with a kind of cunnidigital ardor.


Yet, when at his seemingly least lucid, he conjures up magnificent sentences using quite a few words:

I felt as though I were snorting cocaine, or rappelling down a cliffside, or cliffsurfing off a cliff of pure cocaine.


Lipsyte's writings about Milo's connection to his child and his estranged wife range from so-so to excellent; diamonds are found in the rough.

The same goes for Milo's connection with his old friend Purdy, the former school-mate who made a fortune in IT.

All in all, the humor is tight and the flow is good. It's a recommendable book which needed more editing. ( )
  pivic | Mar 20, 2020 |
This was a difficult, if well-written, book to listen to. The eloquent use of language created a smart satire, although I found its angry sarcasm hard to take in such a large quantity. The plot, about a man trying desperately to find some sense of meaning in the contemporary, urban world, portrayed a painfully demanding and soul-sucking life. The only character which brought some relief was the protagonist's son, young Bernie. Tough read! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jun 12, 2019 |
The humor in this book is as dark as it comes, and the writing is delightfully nasty. Centered around Milo Burke, a married office drone with a 3-year-old son, the title of the book comes from asking donors for money to support the "Mediocre College at New York City", where Milo toils each day. Hysterical, captivating story of a guy who works in fundraising at a college. His travails losing his job, getting together with college friends, and trying to raise money from one of them to keep his job.
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
The gift is Sam Lipsyte's writing: a chewy, corrosive, and syntactically dazzling prose style that doesn't so much run across the page as pick it up and throttle it.
 
There's probably not a living American writer who has so comprehensively mined the comic possibilities of that particular anguished, hapless combination of the overeducated and the underachieving as Sam Lipsyte. Against all odds, his heroes refuse to succeed, and they and we are rewarded with the endlessly entertaining spectacle of their nonstop humiliation.
 
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Milo Burke, a development officer at a third-tier university, has "not been developing": after a run-in with a well-connected undergrad, he finds himself among the burgeoning class of the newly unemployed. Grasping after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is offered one last chance by his former employer: he must reel in a potential donor who has requested Milo's involvement...

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