The Ask

The Ask

Book - 2010
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"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--a major "ask"--who, mysteriously, has requested Milo's involvement. Probing several themes--or, perhaps, anxieties--including 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 tour de force from a writer who has already shown that the deepest fictions are often the funniest"--Cover, p. 2.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780374298913
Branch Call Number: Fic Lips
Characteristics: 296 p. ; 22 cm.


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Dec 20, 2017

A darkly humorous book throughout. Definitely laughed out loud a more than a few times. Many memorable characters and family dysfunction insights. Lots of compassion and philosophy as well.

Jan 24, 2014

A bleak, sometimes funny, oftentimes painful novel about a man who is regarded and regards himself as a failure at life. After losing his job as a development officer for a third-tier arts college, the pathetic, cuckolded Milo Burke is given one shot at redemption. If he can land a big "give" from his former college buddy, the wealthy Purdy Stuart, he may be able to get his life back on track.

This is less a novel about "the ask" itself, and more about the stories that Milo repeats to himself, in various forms, about his own unworthiness and shame as a failed artist, failed professional, failed husband, and failing father. Milo fails to live up to even the most banal expectations of himself, which just feeds the cycle that sucks his esteem right out of him. After reconnecting with Purdy, the old demons come out of their various closets to haunt him again - the failed relationships, missed opportunities, and years wasted in drug and alcohol stupors. It is all frightfully well-written with paragraphs that made me go back and read them a second time to see if I could unlock the secret to the effect the prose had on me.

I can see how critics of the book may lose patience with yet another tale of a middle class, middle-aged white man going through a mid-life crisis, but I felt a sad, sick, and twisted connection to Milo ... maybe because I'm the target demographic. A scene in which Milo stands before the endless variety of foods at a food-by-the-pound deli and describes how he wants to be the kind of guy who can zealously choose and combine a smorgasbord-type meal, then loses his nerve and grabs his usual safe, standby turkey wrap actually brought a tear of empathy to my eye.

debwalker Dec 08, 2010

Satirizing America after the meltdown.


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Dec 19, 2010

mingkangchen thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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