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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 inThe Askthat 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
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ISBN-10:  0374298912
ISBN-13:  978-0374298913
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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review by . August 02, 2011
The Ask--insider jargon for an endowment fund-raising request--is about college endowments like David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest is about tennis academies.  The setting provides a backdrop, but the action, dialogue, and relationships revolve around the strange and strangely-visioned universe of the author's mind.        Milo Burke works, and not too well, for a Mediocre University's institutional development (more jargon, this time for professional begging …
The Ask: A Novel
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