I could not put this book down.
I’m wary of recommending something you might not like. I recently finished Liz Moore’s “Long Bright River,” one of today’s hot books. It’s about sisters, one’s a cop and one’s a drug addict. And to tell you the truth, I had a hard time putting that one down too, but it just didn’t resonate the same way.
“Ask Again, Yes” is a story. Of people.
Guys don’t read this kind of book. They want non-fiction, business, they want their reading to get them ahead, to pay a dividend for their investment. And they also read genre books, you know, mysteries, thrillers, and a few are highbrow, but many are just filling the time, until you get to an unforeseen twist.
But women will read a story with no supernatural characters, no aliens, no superheroes, no tie-in to world events. You see women feel, and men have a problem with that.
OF COURSE I’M GENERALIZING! There are women who are hard-asses and men who are sensitive. But what I’m saying here is many men won’t dive into a book like this and they should, because we’re all living life, we’re all making choices, life is an endless river with twists and turns and you never know when the water will rush, or run out, or you’ll enter rapids unprepared.
The husbands are cops.
But this is not a cop story.
And there’s an incident, but the entire book does not hang on that.
Do you fall into a career, or do you choose it?
Do you buy a house and have kids before you’re truly ready?
Does your betrothed stand up for you?
Is love forever?
Are you principled, or do you have a wandering eye?
Are you a good person, but flawed?
All these questions are asked and more.
Do you have expectations for your kids? What if they don’t take the road you want them to? And how important is money? And as life goes by do you realize how much you’re missing and will never experience, and do you care?
The characters could be more developed.
But you don’t have the endless scene-setting and description of the highbrow “literature.” First and foremost a book must be readable, and too many highfalutin’ writers break this rule, so their work is immediately compromised, but not Mary Beth Keane.
And you may not see yourself in the book, but maybe you will. Especially if you grew up in the suburbs.
And life happens and stuff gets thrown at you that you had nothing to do with, and you’ve got no choice but to soldier on.
Reading is a private endeavor. Antithetical to today’s internet, show-off environment. It’s just you and the book. You delve into a world. You may be walking around the neighborhood, at work, but part of you is still in the headspace of the novel, and you can’t wait to get back there.
There’s no big lesson when the book ends. There’s not even a slam-bang, unexpected ending.
In a world where everyone lauds comic books, as if guys should get credit for reading them…
In a world where everybody goes lowbrow and bristles if you say their behavior is in the gutter…
Where you’re wary of acting like you’re better than someone else (I’m not talking about the wannabe bozos online, just the people you come in contact with each and every day)…
The truth is we’re all just trying to figure it out, we’re all the same, despite the totems. At heart we’re animals, with feelings. Sometimes we bury them, we’re afraid of being judged. But when you read a good book your life opens up, you feel free, connected, inspired…you know that you are not alone. And isn’t that the purpose of art?
P.S. This is not a rare book. It was a hit over the spring and summer. But I just picked it up.
P.P.S. I read a physical copy, boy is that a pain in the ass. I’ve got to turn on the lights, which ruins the nighttime mood. Yes, I read in the dark, it enhances the experience. And the typeface was too small. On a Kindle, you can adjust it. But the antiquities who run the book business like it this way, they love that they killed the Kindle book. Come on, click on the link above, the hardcover is a dollar and sixty cents cheaper than the digital edition, which required no printing, no shipping and no return. The book business should have learned the lessons of the record business…everybody thinks their business is different, but it’s not.