I know I joke around a lot about having only one or two readers and, for the most part, I’m not joking. Like seriously, I see the numbers. There are about five of you—six on a good day—and I’m grateful for every one. But on this lovely day in June, I find myself particularly grateful to one reader in particular (no, not you mom) who by virtue of her totally enviable job in book publishing, sent me some freebies in a very official-seeming package that arrived at my office yesterday, forcing me to gloat to my coworker (another reader, bless her) about how totally awesome I am and how probable it is that in the not-so-distant future I will be far too famous for my book blog to bother with a regular 9-to-5 and she should probably get on my schedule now if she wants to still be friends in 2012.
So thanks, new favorite reader (I am withholding your identity because
I don’t want to get you in trouble for sending books to a reviewer with a 5-person audience one cannot predict the magnitude of attention you would get if I mentioned you by name.) It’s nice to write book reviews; it’s even nicer to think that someone, somewhere out there is enjoying them.
On to The Ask! I first heard about this book sometime last year, when it was reviewed not once but twice in the New York Times. (Seriously NYT, something like 200,000 books are published a year and you can’t bother to limit it to one review per? I just don’t know how my imminent memoir about growing up an upper-middle-class suburban white girl will ever break through.) Since I am criminally awful at summarizing the actual plots of books—have you guys noticed?—I’ll just steal a paragraph from Lydia Millet’s review:
“The Ask” describes a crisis in the life of one Milo Burke, a deeply cynical academic development officer, earnest binger on doughnuts, avid consumer of Internet porn, and devoted father and husband. Detailing the meltdown of Milo’s career and marriage, “The Ask” takes place in an exhausted and passive institutional workplace—the kind of futile office space we know from such cinematic offerings as, well, “Office Space.” … When Milo loses his job, then gets a chance to have it back if he can reel in a big fish—a major gift from an old college friend who’s now a Machiavellian tech millionaire—he starts down a grim and spiraling path.
That’s enough (unlike the Times, I don’t believe in giving away a novel’s entire plot in a review.) The bottom line: The book is about Milo, a definitive sad sack with artistic aspirations but limited motivation, who alternates his time between grandiose ruminations on “the meaning of it all” and just run-of-the-mill complaining. “We were stuck between meanings,” he writes. “Or we were the last dribbles of something. The fall of the Soviet Union, this was, the death of analog. The beginning of aggressively marketed nachos.” (Confession: This was the easiest quote to pull as it was referenced in not one, but both Times reviews. SERIOUSLY NYT, GET IT TOGETHER.)Continue reading “Aggressively marketed nachos”