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The Ask [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Sam Lipsyte
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 May 2014
Milo Burke -- husband to a 'touched-out' wife, father to a three-year-old son, fund-raising officer at a third-tier university -- has just joined the swelling ranks of the unemployed. As he grasps after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is contacted by Purdy Stuart, a wealthy, one-time university friend with a sinister agenda. It is the start of a hilarious and harrowing odyssey through several degrees of peculiarly 21st-century hell -- a journey recorded by Milo with the caustic eloquence that is his only means of defence.
Hailed as the first great 'post-Iraq' novel, The Ask has been a critical sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a dazzlingly entertaining read that anatomises our crisis-ridden times with equal part ferocity and compassion.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: MacMillan Audio; Unabridged edition (15 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427252211
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427252210
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'One of the funniest and most straight-out brilliant novels of the last few years'

'Funny, smart and mean'
David Nicholls, author of One Day (picked The Ask as one of his BOOKS OF THE YEAR in The Times)

'Hysterically funny . . . amazing . . . it affords breathtaking views of the social landscape of "late capitalism"'

'that rare thing . . . a proper comic novel'
The Times

'Incandescently written . . . you have to go back to Joseph Heller in his prime to find writing this energised'
Sunday Times

'Zinging . . . The Ask may not be the novel America wanted to get, but clearly it's the one it has been asking for . . . If this is reminiscent of anything it's Martin Amis at his 1980s apogee'

'Made me snort out laughing on the Tube in a really embarrassing way . . . Milo is possibly the smartest satirical character you'll come across'
Literary Review

'Oh, how I laughed at this book'
David Sedaris

'No novel caught the zeitgeist better . . . It cuts to the sad heart of our age'
Evening Standard (picked as a BOOK OF THE YEAR)

'Read Lipsyte and rejoice'
New York Times

'One of the novelists whose voice will define the next decade'
Independent (where The Ask was picked as a BOOK OF THE YEAR)

'It's customary for radically sardonic, corrosively funny writers to put in time as mere cult icons, but enough already: everybody should read Sam Lipsyte'
Time Magazine

'A masterpiece . . . Everything about it is timely and penetrating and a crack-like buzz to read'
Dazed and Confused

'So funny you might lose an eye'
Vanity Fair

'Screamingly funny'
Geoff Dyer

'I laughed out loud -- and I never laugh out loud'
Chuck Palahniuk

'Lipsyte is a gifted stylist, precise, original, devious, and very funny'
Jeffrey Eugenides

'Scabrously, deliriously funny . . . Lipsyte's prose arrows fly with gloriously weird spin, tracing punch-drunk curlicues before hitting their marks or landing in some nearby alternate universe'
New York Review of Books --... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sam Lipsyte was born in 1968. He is the author of the short story collection Venus Drive and two novels: The Subject Steve and Home Land, which -- along with The Ask -- was a New York Times Notable Book. He lives in New York. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Kid's Review
Technology gives us lots of shiny, virtual joys - and sometimes it makes us think that these are the real themes of life. The Ask, in the most funny way possible disputes this. The Ask describes the "cultural failure" of a virtual world and explains that the real themes of life continue to be very analogue: love, death, desire, failure.

It's funny. It moves fast. And it makes you want to glory in the words. We live in an era of "aggressively marketed nachos." says one sentence. It describes with much hilarity the "new" world and it a reminder that every moment spent blogging or virtual friending is one moment removed from real living: the real smells, fissures and hot-desire of our true, 'offline' worlds. I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impressive prose but... 18 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this having read Ben Marcus recommend it in an interview. The reviews compare 'The Ask' to Amis's 'Money' and in terms of the tone and the quality of the prose, the comparison is justified. My reservations are really due to a response to some of the embedded points of view implicit in the novel. Firstly, it often reads as if made of East Coast hipster cliches: the tired thirty something marriage, the narrator's unfulfilled creative aspirations. Secondly, it's rammed full of the kind of minor characters that would work well in a short story, but seem stereotyped and partial in the wider space of a novel. Thirdly, the writer' objectivity to his material seems hopelessly compromised to me: the novel satirises left wing communitarianism, presents the very wealthy as the most active, self aware personalities in the narrative, and generally promotes all the myths of 21st century Capital whilst believing itself to be ironic towards and therefore removed from them. I suppose as a British reader I'm not the perfect audience for this but still...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ask and you shall receive.... 16 July 2011
I read The Ask in a week. It is a funny book. The writing is a total joy to suck through the eyeholes. Aside from being funny it is a real book where things happen and the characters remind you of people you have met and you care about what will happen. Its about Iraq, fatherhood, money, education, deciding who you are, who you are not and what is the best way to spend your time here on the planet. But mainly its about fatherhood. Which does not sound terribly exciting does it and I suppose its not but The Ask is a really really good, buy this book!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Contemporary, fast moving, smart, witty, blokey, virtuoso prose, New York sensibility. I didn't like it much. I suspect this is not the right novel for me, a rather ponderous, British, Northern woman. I admired it in a detached sort of way but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Someone left a comment on one of other reviews saying they had hoped (in vain) for something akin to Confederacy of Dunces. I'd considered similar comparisons. The protagonist, Milo Burke, is cut from the same cloth, but he's no Ignatius J. Reilly. Where Ignatius is hateful, arrogant, outrageous, hilarious and unique, Milo is simply annoying: a generic, leering, self-absorbed Sit-Com American loser. Maybe for reasons about myself cited above I found it difficult to identify with him, though when I recall other self-pitying American misogynists I have engaged with e.g. the eponymous Wilson of Daniel Clowes's brilliant graphic novel, I wonder whether it's more than just a cultural thing. This felt like the sort of dazzling new novel you are supposed to enthuse about because you can sense how clever it is, but secretly you would rather watch an episode of Emmerdale.

The other characters in the novel appeared to find Milo as tiresome as I did, though I didn't warm to any of them much either. The risk attendant upon assembling such an unlovable cast is that the reader has little incentive to care about what happens to them, and where does that leave the plot? I was fairly indifferent. Unlike some of the professional reviewers cited in the opening pages It didn't make me laugh out loud, I found the scenes between Milo and his mother quite funny but generally the conversations were a bit too slick and scripted.

Like others I came to this via the Guardian's glowing review but that's fair enough.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Asking too much 1 Jan 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I read a review for The Ask in the Guardian, and immediately ordered it. It sounded fantastic. A funny diatribe against modern society. What could possibly go wrong? Well, almost everything.

The main character, Milo is a misogynistic loser, with no redeeming features. No charm. No wit. Nothing. The book deals with his attempts to repair his broken life. It's refreshing to read the thoughts of someone so unlikeable at first, but it soon becomes incredibly tiresome. Milo is just too much a **** to care about anything he does, or any of the meandering roads the plot takes us down.

But things like characters and plot and any kind of sense aren't the point, I suppose. It's all about the hip, stylish prose. Lipsyte is very much in love with his own writing, and I get the feeling he enjoys his own turn of phrase a lot more than the reader does. He's like a tedious Raymond Chandler, spinning out one-liners in an attempt to make you chuckle. But Lipsyte is no Chandler. Where Marlow's comments say a lot about his character, the little jokes here take the reader completely out of the story. They are the literary equivalent of a four year old jumping up and down and shouting for attention.

In the end, this book commits the worst sin a book can. It's dull. I didn't laugh, I didn't care and the supposedly brilliant observations on modern life (Rich people can be damaged! People do drugs! Sex happens! People live in smaller living spaces now!) were well worn and tired.

I really hated this book. So much so that it's not just made me suspicious of reading any books by Lipsyte again, but also made me wary of listening to any form literary review.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Blacker than black humour
Heard a lot about Sam Lipsyte's books before, but never tried one. Was really impressed with the dialogue and characterisation of the main protagonists, although Milo Burke's life... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Steve Kenny
2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome and not ideal for us Brits
I must agree with those reviewers who have expressed their frustration with this novel. I too bought it after reading a number of glowing reviews but found it unwieldy,... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny
The work setting as a major backdrop for a book can be difficult but Sam Lipsyte's novel tackles this very well. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Deborah
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This book was a book club choice. I read the existing reviews on Amazon and felt enthused by them,certain that the book club choice had introduced me to a really exciting read. Read more
Published on 20 May 2012 by pollyanna12
2.0 out of 5 stars very demanding
Not too bad for the first half, but soon runs out of steam. Unresolved plotlines, repetitive narration and probably about 100 pages too long. Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2011 by Melanie Pitches
5.0 out of 5 stars Not much measures up to this
Sam Lipsyte is one of the best writers around today. If you want to read something which pushes the boundaries, stretches the envelope of our tired use of language in an... Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2011 by Flagitious Crenallation
2.0 out of 5 stars Not funny at all
I had read the glowing review of this book in the Observer, so was happy to read it for my book group, but not only did none of us (7) like it, not one of us managed to finish it. Read more
Published on 8 April 2011 by Crime Buff
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and annoyingly full of itself
I found this book dull and very hard to bring myself to finish. Milo is a thoroughly unlikable character whose woes I could not manage to care about or even be slightly amused... Read more
Published on 21 Mar 2011 by Mr. S. J. Reid
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of serious fun
I enjoyed the book, wondering what the "hero" would do and how he would survive losing his job, and worse. Read more
Published on 27 July 2010 by Ransen Owen
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