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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social networking, iPads and the sadness attendant
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...
Published on 27 Jun 2010

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impressive prose but...
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:...
Published 15 months ago by L. Hawes


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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social networking, iPads and the sadness attendant, 27 Jun 2010
A Kid's Review
This review is from: The Ask (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: The Ask (Paperback)
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
This review is from: The Ask (Paperback)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars If this is where it's at I'd prefer to be somewhere else, 8 April 2011
By 
Tamara L (North West England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ask (Paperback)
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. I can be dispassionate enough to see that some people would rate it. How do you score a book? According to how good you suspect it might be (five stars all round for War and Peace) or how much it moved you on a personal level. I've plumped for the latter. I'm not saying it's poorly written, it just didn't speak to me. I can think of lots of other well-regarded novels that have done nothing for me either. Thank heavens we don't all have the same taste.
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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
By 
Mr. R. A. W. Tock (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ask (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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody better at intelligent humour..., 5 July 2010
By 
Mark Porter "morris" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ask (Paperback)
... in my opinion! Sam Lipsyte has a fantastic handle on language, an ear for the subtle naunces of the everyday language of relationships, be they with a spouse or even the person behind the counter in the local deli. Add this to a poulation of bizzare, humerous, eccentric and yet authentic characters and you start to get the flavour of Sam Lipsyte. You may say that other writers do that too and you would be right, of course. But few in my experience can do it this well. also, Mr Lipsyte has a fantastic line in honest sex and the mental preoccupation that men have with it. Milo is a loser but he is a loveable loser, life happens to him and yet he is tryiong his best. He wants to be a good husband, father, colleague and son. he wants to be succesful but just as importantly, he does not want to have to compromise on his lunchtime choice of a turkey wrap (pannini's are an absolute no-go, Joe).
Anyway, I would definitely give it a go - same goes for 'The Subject Steve' in which a man is dying of something so 'fantastically new' that no-one else has expired from it yet, so new that it has not been named. People who like Joe R. Lansdale, Jim Dodge, J.Robert Lennon and even early Woody Allen will like this. If you liked Joseph Heller at his best, you will love it. Sam is THE man. Better believe it, brother (and sister).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blacker than black humour, 30 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Ask (Kindle Edition)
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 as an underachieving, middle class New Yorker from a highly dysfunctional family is not one I can identify with readily. He does have a striking moral compass however, but makes a number of unfortunate decisions which impact heavily on his life. Some of these are unavoidable, but his principles often get him into bother with his (ex) employer, his old and rich University pal and others.

Some really funny exchanges and set pieces, and a great made up name in his line manager Vargina who was a crack baby made good whose midwife added the r out of sympathy.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome and not ideal for us Brits, 24 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Ask (Kindle Edition)
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, unsympathetic, a main protagonist who one does not feel for and prose that is over laboured and frankly full of references that most of us in the UK will simply not understand.

There were a few laugh out loud moments but if you believe the reviews you'd think I should have been doubled up in hysteria throughout. This is absolutely not the case. I also agree with those who feel the book is too long. It really does need some editing both in terms of overly prolix sentences and unnecessary scenes or irrelevances to the plot.

In the end you don't really care about Milo and his 'Ask' from his old college friend Purdy. They are all self-obsessed two dimensional characters and frankly you were left feeling that Lipsyte was on a writing ego-trip and has as much contempt for his readers as Milo has for just about everybody he comes into contact with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny, 16 Aug 2012
By 
Deborah (Mitcham, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ask (Paperback)
The work setting as a major backdrop for a book can be difficult but Sam Lipsyte's novel tackles this very well. In Milo Burke you have a main character who you feel isn't quite a hero - however you champion him anyway. Negotiating an environment where you have self-interested colleagues or employment issues in the day and relationship challenges in the evening isn't easy and this book succeeds. Lipsyte really captures the essence of the individual characters well from Purdy, the old university friend, to Milo's wife. It's a book that certainly made me laugh while reading it in public too. The themes inside it can be sad but you're carried along by the wit.
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2.0 out of 5 stars very demanding, 4 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Ask (Paperback)
Not too bad for the first half, but soon runs out of steam. Unresolved plotlines, repetitive narration and probably about 100 pages too long. A lack of empathy for Milo killed this story for me as in the end I couldn't have cared less for him or anyone else in the book.
The real shame of the book belongs to the reviews on the back cover. This is certainly not a laugh out loud novel as the humour was was too Frat house and peurile. It was like buying a tin of baked beans only to find it full of alphabet spaghetti, and having nothing else to eat, making do with that.
Sorry, but Mr Lypsyte needs to write a book where something happens and relying on some B grade Bill Hicks riffs is no starting point for a novel.
I think the Guardian review originally read, "Not very, very funny," they just cut out the not.
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The Ask
The Ask by Sam Lipsyte (Paperback - 1 Feb 2011)
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