No sacred cows are spared by Sam Lipsyte's laser wit as he chronicles the analog life and digital times of protagonist Milo Burke. What this means is, rather than a sleek, flashy hi-def 21st century video game, Milo's tale more easily resembles an old-fashioned pinball game. This is not to say that his life isn't firmly planted in these troubled times. Indeed, the uniquely troubled economy of the first decade of the 21st century is arguably a real player
, a palpable character in Lipsyte's novel.
It's just that Milo is, well, for lack of a better analogy, analog
world drowning in digital
. He is always just a step outside of - not behind
- what is going on around him. Everything he does seems to be accompanied by the
imaginary sound of wheezing machinery, grinding gears. It's hard to say whether
Milo's first person narrative causes this...
Beyond the Book
Maybe there is no topic of greater interest to fiction readers than how characters develop. Where do they come from? Do authors fashion them after people they know? Do characters do the author's bidding or do they lead the way for the author? Milo Burke is a character outside the pale of most protagonists, certainly not a traditional sad-sack loser by any means. What's more, his profession as a development officer for a mediocre university makes one wonder: from whence did Milo spring? Is The Ask
autobiographical? Is Milo a caricature of someone Lipsyte knows?
In a March 2, 2010 interview with Michael Kimball from The Faster Times, Sam Lipsyte opens up about the...