ASKING ANNA by Jake Seliger


A Novel
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In Seliger’s quirky debut, a 20-something who’s reluctant to propose to his girlfriend brings her to Seattle to visit old friends before he makes his final decision.

Rather than boarding the plane and seeing what happens, Steven is standing quietly in the security line thinking deep thoughts: “there is no better setting for revelation than a trip, ideally one fraught with meaning.” His internal monologue is, at times, overly ponderous. It’s also funny. Steven’s influences range from economist Dan Ariely to comedian Chris Rock as he tries to explain why he’s still carrying Anna’s ring around in a box rather than giving it to her; lists, charts, and footnotes illustrate his reasons. Even the auto-filled answers he finds in Google’s search results seem to offer insights on the differences between men and women when it comes to love (e.g., “why won’t she swallow” vs. “why won’t he marry me”). Some of his observations are eloquent—“so many old people become bitter over time, like over-brewed cups of tea”—while others are crude: “I like forward girls. And wet ones.” Steven tries consulting his old college buddies and casual partners about his dilemma, but all they do is become mirrors, showing him his own flaws. His friend Cooper, for instance, is too much of a party animal to have a mature opinion about marriage, and when Steven is tempted by other women in bars, he finds he’s not much better than Cooper. While Steven considers himself to be an academic, Anna more aptly describes him as being “in his late twenties, going on 16.” He’s so self-absorbed that Anna’s character is often more of an abstract idea than a living, breathing woman. It takes a cancer scare to show that Steven’s fear of adulthood isn’t limited to his fear of commitment. He barely acknowledges that his lab results might bring bad news as he stays out all night while Anna sleeps. He also fails to consider that Anna’s commitment to him isn’t guaranteed.

Love him or hate him, Steven weighs his options with a unique and strong voice as he searches for the value of commitment in a hookup culture.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1495242212
Page count: 242pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2015


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