the first jonathan ames book i read was i love you more than you know, a collection of essays in the vein of david sedaris. after thoroughly enjoying that book i read his other collections before diving into his novels. for some reason i was a bit wary about reading his novels, it turns out that his novels seem like long versions of his essays. with the main characters seemingly based on himself and his adventures in new york and new jersey. the extra man starts with his character ,louis ives, moving from new jersey to new york city and sharing an apartment with an eccentric and mysterious older man, henry harrison. as he learns more about the man’s he gains a unique admiration for him and does everything he can to earn henry’s respect. henry, in his own way, teaches louis how to survive in new york’s society life while not spending a penny. all the while louis is trying to keep his own personal life a secret. the extra man was funny and strangely insightful.
when ever i try to describe jonathan ames writing all i can ever say is that he reminds me of charles bukowski , and thanks to wikipedia i know i’m not the only one. the only problem with that comparison is that most people i know don’t really like bukowski, people often find him abrasive and misogynistic. ames is nothing like that, it’s just they both seem to skirt a line of perversion and grit. i would also say he belongs in the same group as the mcsweeney’s crowd of hipster writers that recall, and are possibly trying to reinvent, the beat generation. i am a big fan of jonathan ames and look forward to his future writing, which include a graphic novel, the alcoholic, and a new book of essays in 2009.