The Eastern Valley High School Alumni newsletter, Catamount Notes, is bursting with tales of success: former students include a bankable politician and a famous baseball star, not to mention a major-label recording artist. Then there is the appalling, yet utterly lovable, Lewis Miner, class of '89---a.k.a Teabag---who did not pan out. Home Land is his confession in all its bitter, lovelorn glory.
Sam Lipsyte was born in 1968. He is the author of the story collection Venus Drive (named one of the top twenty-five books of its year by the Voice Literary Supplement) and the novel The Subject Steve. He lives in Astoria, Queens.
Milo Burke, a development officer at a third-tier university, has "not been developing": after a run-in with a well-connected undergrad, he finds himself among the burgeoning class of the newly unemployed. Grasping after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is offered one last chance by his former employer: he must reel in a potential donor—a major "ask"—who, mysteriously, has requested Milo's involvement. But it turns out that the ask is Milo's sinister college classmate Purdy Stuart. And the "give" won't come cheap.
Probing many 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, Sam Lipsyte's The Ask is a burst of genius by an author who has already demonstrated that the truly provocative and important fictions are often the funniest ones.
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A man with an "old soul" finds himself at a Times Square peep show, looking for more than just a little action. A young man goes into some serious regression after finding his deceased mother's stash of morphine. A group of summer-camp sadists return to the scene of the crime. Sam Lipsyte's brutally funny narratives tread morally ambiguous terrain, where desperate characters stumble over hope, or sometimes merely stumble. Written with ferocious wit and surprising empathy, Venus Drive is a potent collection of stories from "a wickedly gifted writer" (Robert Stone).
The Picador paperback edition includes an excerpt from The Ask.