Many Privileges and Zero Skills

Finally read Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask, another novel fronted by an over-educated, under-employed male malcontent who makes shitty decisions and is sparked to real action only from crisis and calamity. That probably reads as if I hated the book, and the odd thing is I didn’t. Far from it. Maybe it speaks to a deep-seated self-loathing that I can enjoy and identify with these somewhat contemptible protagonists like Milo Burke. You know the ones, the spear-side of a lineage traceable to the works of J.D. Salinger, Joseph Heller and John Cheever, among others. I had a similar experience while reading Joe Pernice’s It Feels So Good When I Stop, a novel about running away from commitment and tending to pet obsessions. There’s clearly an accessibility (not to mention self-awareness) to the emotionally-stunted narcissists that populate a majority of the fiction that I’ve been reading lately. It’s almost like they’re my friends. Actually, they are like my friends. Jesus.

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