We recently announced a new series, Galley of the Week, in which we'd touch on the galley that most excited us in the week's mail. This installment looks at The Ask, the new novel from Sam Lipsyte, whose novel Homeland we admire immoderately.
We can't even seem to find cover art to taunt you with - the book isn't out until March - but we did locate this clip of the author reading a section from the novel:
We're especially interested in editor Lorin Stein's eloquent letter to Booksellers and Reviewers, in which he laments the apparent demise of the comic novel:
"Lately, the comic novel has fallen into a kind of desuetude. The very words "comic novel" have disappeared from many publishers' catalogues. There are good reasons for this, first among them the end of network censorship. Stand-up comedians and satirists can say pretty much anything they want - we can talk honestly and intelligently about things that, thirty years ago, you could only say in a book. Yet there are certain truths the novel along can approach with the needed nuance and speed. These are truths of consciousness: how it feels to walk down the street, how it feels to be married or have a job or a sexual fanatasy; what longing feels like, what failure feels like, what it feels like to think. These, too, are matters for comedy. There is nothing funnier than a thought."
But enough of the man behind the curtain. Here's the opening paragraph of The Ask, to whet the appetite of Lipsyte fans everywhere:
America, said Horace, the office temp, was a run-down and demented pimp. Our republic's whoremaster days were through. Whither that frost-nerved, diamond-fanged hustler who'd stormed Normandy, dick-smacked the Soviets, turned out such firm emerging market flesh? Now our nation slumped in the corner of the pool hall, some gummy coot with a pint of Mad Dog and soggy yellow eyes, just another mark for the juvenile wolves.
The Ask. Coming in March 2010 from FSG. And this week's Galley of the Week. You saw it here first.
UPDATE: FSG has kindly provided the cover art for your consideration: