Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte

Modern America outrages an ineffectual man

I really enjoyed this – every sentence was a work of art. Milo Burke, a juvenile dick or a dickish juvenile, quietly rants about the American way of life. There’s an undercurrent(maybe you could call it an overcurrent) of hilarious rage at the loss of white male privilege.  Milo’s work assignment (the plot, that is) is to coax money out of a very rich potential donor to Mediocre U. But this donor, an old college friend, requires certain other things from Milo.  He meets all sorts of self absorbed characters in his journey across the social strata of New York. The novel is not entirely about feeling superior -- certain aspects of America are quietly indicted – the war that blows young men’s legs and young woman’s heads off, the economic structure which gives the very rich the resources to do whatever they please. My only quibble is that everyone speaks the same and at the end I had to reread pages because I wasn’t sure how it was wrapping up. Still not quite sure, for that matter.

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