When Milo Burke, a balding, slope-bellied 'donations' officer at a minor New York university, has a disastrous run-in with a rich undergraduate, he winds up on the unemployed scrap heap. Grasping at odd jobs to support his wife and young son, he's offered one last chance: he must reel in a potential donor - a major 'Ask' - who, mysteriously, has requested his involvement. It turns out that the 'Ask' is Milo's sinister college buddy Purdy Stuart, and the 'give' won't come cheap. Before long Milo finds himself serving as a queasy mix of factotum, bagman, client state and sounding board to Purdy, who assigns him the task of delivering hush money to his secret illegitimate son, a legless and spectacularly embittered Iraq War veteran... Can Milo win back his job, reclaim his manhood and do justice to his marriage, or is he destined to chug down the gurgler, becoming yet another sad statistic of modern-day America? Skewering modern-day themes including work, war, sex, class, child-rearing, romantic comedies, cooking shows on death row and the eroticisation of chicken wire, The Ask is a burst of genius by a young American master who demonstrates that truly provocative and important fictions are often the funniest.
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