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Jonathan Ames

Started by Mobbd, May 28, 2022, 08:02:26 PM

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Mobbd

I'm revisiting the work of humorist Jonathan Ames. So far, I'm delighted by him. Just really funny, heartening, often quite sleazy/degenerate in a very matter-of-fact but confessional sort of way and frequently scatalogical.

He seems fixated with his own perversions but it never feels trivial, it's always morbidly interesting and even charming. He visits sex workers and has encouters with transgender dwarf and a dominatrix, yet it always feels light and oddly relatable even though the reader is unlikely to have done quite the same.

I've known about him for years, of course, but sadly forgot him for a while. Not sure why. I liked him back in the day and I like him again now, but it all feels like a wonderful new discovery.

I read The Double Life is Twice as Good (personal essays) back in about 2010 after enjoying Bored to Death (high quality stoner-adjascent comedy) on TV.

A pal just gave me his other collection of personal essays, I Love You More Than You Know, which I'm enjoying very much and has rekindled a desire for more so I just ordered one of his novels, The Extra Man and look forward to reading it.

He did a Wodehouse-inspired novel called Wake Up, Sir! about some legally-distinct Jeeves and his master, which I have not read but does appeal. Anyone here read it?

I've almost finished I Love You and he's just brought up an older essay of his called "I Shat My Pants in the South of France". This triggered a half-memory that he spoke about this essay on RHLSTP. He didn't seem a likely guest but, lo and behold, here is, being the raconteur to Herring's crippled-with-anxiety prompter man. It's very underwatched in RHLSTP terms (about 15,000 views) but I'd like to reccomend it.


What do people here make of Ames? When did you last read him? How do you rank him against Sedaris and Lebowitz and others of that humorist/storyteller ilk?

fucking ponderous

I haven't read him but he allegedly hit on my ex-girlfriend's mother in a bar once. Marc Maron did too, when she and him were in college, and both in relationships.

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: Mobbd on May 28, 2022, 08:02:26 PMI'm revisiting the work of humorist Jonathan Ames. So far, I'm delighted by him. Just really funny, heartening, often quite sleazy/degenerate in a very matter-of-fact but confessional sort of way and frequently scatalogical.

He seems fixated with his own perversions but it never feels trivial, it's always morbidly interesting and even charming. He visits sex workers and has encouters with transgender dwarf and a dominatrix, yet it always feels light and oddly relatable even though the reader is unlikely to have done quite the same.

I've known about him for years, of course, but sadly forgot him for a while. Not sure why. I liked him back in the day and I like him again now, but it all feels like a wonderful new discovery.

I read The Double Life is Twice as Good (personal essays) back in about 2010 after enjoying Bored to Death (high quality stoner-adjascent comedy) on TV.

A pal just gave me his other collection of personal essays, I Love You More Than You Know, which I'm enjoying very much and has rekindled a desire for more so I just ordered one of his novels, The Extra Man and look forward to reading it.

He did a Wodehouse-inspired novel called Wake Up, Sir! about some legally-distinct Jeeves and his master, which I have not read but does appeal. Anyone here read it?

I've almost finished I Love You and he's just brought up an older essay of his called "I Shat My Pants in the South of France". This triggered a half-memory that he spoke about this essay on RHLSTP. He didn't seem a likely guest but, lo and behold, here is, being the raconteur to Herring's crippled-with-anxiety prompter man. It's very underwatched in RHLSTP terms (about 15,000 views) but I'd like to reccomend it.


What do people here make of Ames? When did you last read him? How do you rank him against Sedaris and Lebowitz and others of that humorist/storyteller ilk?

I'm a big, big fan of his, I'll write more tomorrow but Wake Up Sir? is really fun, and I enjoyed The Extra Man a lot too, though right now feel that What's Not To Love? is the thing I love the most.

Mobbd

Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on May 29, 2022, 01:28:29 AMI'm a big, big fan of his, I'll write more tomorrow but Wake Up Sir? is really fun, and I enjoyed The Extra Man a lot too, though right now feel that What's Not To Love? is the thing I love the most.

Excellent, thank you. What's Not to Love is actually the one I ordered and is on its way (not sure why I said Extra Man above) and it looks like my local library has Wake Up, Sir! and The Extra Man.

Looking forward to hearing anything else you want to say (as always, of course).

Small Man Big Horse

Thanks you for that. And well, I only discovered him due to Bored To Death but was a huge fan of his for that alone, though I am one of about eight people who seemed to enjoy Blunt Talk as well. The aforementioned What's Not To Love? was so sweet natured and genuinely funny that it's a book I'm extremely fond of, and Wake Up, Sir! is his best novel for me, though I like the The Extra Man a lot, it's not quite up there with what had come before.

Fake Edit: I was just about to hit post when I remembered I've read his graphic novel The Alcoholic, and remember being impressed at the time, and should revisit it soon.

I'm a big fan of Sedaris's early work (Naked, Barrel Fever, Me Talk Funny One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, but find his newer writing more variable, it has its moments but sometimes it does feel a little like he's run out of stories to tell. That said Calypso was a return to form for me, and when his next one turns up in a charity shop I'll definitely get it.

Mobbd

Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on May 29, 2022, 11:11:48 AMThanks you for that. And well, I only discovered him due to Bored To Death but was a huge fan of his for that alone, though I am one of about eight people who seemed to enjoy Blunt Talk as well. The aforementioned What's Not To Love? was so sweet natured and genuinely funny that it's a book I'm extremely fond of, and Wake Up, Sir! is his best novel for me, though I like the The Extra Man a lot, it's not quite up there with what had come before.

Fake Edit: I was just about to hit post when I remembered I've read his graphic novel The Alcoholic, and remember being impressed at the time, and should revisit it soon.

I'm a big fan of Sedaris's early work (Naked, Barrel Fever, Me Talk Funny One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, but find his newer writing more variable, it has its moments but sometimes it does feel a little like he's run out of stories to tell. That said Calypso was a return to form for me, and when his next one turns up in a charity shop I'll definitely get it.

Oddly enough, I'm reading Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim right now alongside Ames. (I went on a trip and took two books that I felt would be easygoing and absorbing enough to pass the time in transit). I'm surprised to find Ames much sharper and thought-provoking than early Sedaris. I still love him but I'm finding this particular volume a bit limp compared to my memories of Me Talk Pretty One Day, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and Calypso (which, actually, felt ever-so-slightly phoned in to me though I did enjoy it) even though I know it's supposed to be vintage Sedaris.

With regards to the quality of Sedaris' recent work, I read his diaries recently, enjoying Theft by Finding but being absolutely blown away by [the poorly-titled] Carnival of Snackery. Title aside, it is absolutely hilarious, truly unreplicable by anyone else and probably even himself. Lightning in a bottle. Brilliantly observed, excellently edited, and just written in the right places at the right times. It slides quite darkly into the dystopic Trump-and-Brexit-and-Covid years, confirming in my mind that the previous decade really was a better time and that there really are no rose-tinted goggles in this case, but every last entry (which is usually only about 300 words long) has something truly shocking or hilarious in it. It's a massive tombstone of a book but I read it all up in about 10 days; it was that good.

Back to Ames, I've almost finished I Love You More Than You Know and I'm really impressed. Looking forward to reading those other books of his I've got lined up.

I enjoyed Bored to Death very much, by the way. Some of my love for it was probably down to Ted Danson as George Christopher (such a class act, that gentle voice, "I love Danny Kaye too!") but obviously Ames' vision is at the bottom of it all.

Thanks for mentioning The Alchoholic. That's in my local library too but I'd sort-of ignored it in favour of the 'proper ones,' an error I will of course correct on your recommendation.

Mobbd

My used copy of What's Not to Love just arrived in the post. Flipping through it, I'm already in love, plus a little bruised with nostalgia. God, I miss the '90s. Such social cohesion. Such confidence. (Please don't correct me by pointing out the shit things about the '90s, I'm enjoying the wallow).

The cover reminds me of Jon Ronson's Clubbed Class for use of the colour yellow and the zany photo booth trope.



You don't get that cult-of-personality type of humour so much any more. When you see it on TV or on Edinburgh fringe posters these days, you just think "cunt." We don't want characters anymore. Arch individualism makes less sense now.

Small Man Big Horse

It's been an oddly busy week but I will reply to your post above soon, and I hope you enjoy "What's Not To Love?" as much as I did. Due to this thread (and it going down in price!) I've finally got around to ordering "My Less Than Secret Life", and at the same time also bought "A Man Named Doll" which is apparently a mix of humour and thriller that he released last year.

Small Man Big Horse

#8
Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on June 01, 2022, 11:48:19 AMIt's been an oddly busy week but I will reply to your post above soon

Which turned out to be now as one of my students couldn't be arsed to turn up!

Quote from: Mobbd on May 29, 2022, 02:47:57 PMOddly enough, I'm reading Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim right now alongside Ames. (I went on a trip and took two books that I felt would be easygoing and absorbing enough to pass the time in transit). I'm surprised to find Ames much sharper and thought-provoking than early Sedaris. I still love him but I'm finding this particular volume a bit limp compared to my memories of Me Talk Pretty One Day, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and Calypso (which, actually, felt ever-so-slightly phoned in to me though I did enjoy it) even though I know it's supposed to be vintage Sedaris.

I struggle to separate Sedaris's different books sometimes now that I've read so many, but always in the wrong order, but I do remember being really disappointed by Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls and there was a long break inbetween reading that and Calypso, which is possibly why I liked it so much as it as it felt like a return to form.

QuoteWith regards to the quality of Sedaris' recent work, I read his diaries recently, enjoying Theft by Finding but being absolutely blown away by [the poorly-titled] Carnival of Snackery. Title aside, it is absolutely hilarious, truly unreplicable by anyone else and probably even himself. Lightning in a bottle. Brilliantly observed, excellently edited, and just written in the right places at the right times. It slides quite darkly into the dystopic Trump-and-Brexit-and-Covid years, confirming in my mind that the previous decade really was a better time and that there really are no rose-tinted goggles in this case, but every last entry (which is usually only about 300 words long) has something truly shocking or hilarious in it. It's a massive tombstone of a book but I read it all up in about 10 days; it was that good.

I saw the first volume of his diaries in a charity shop really recently but it was the hardback version and a giant brick of a book, so passed at the time, but I'll check out the second volume once it starts turning up in cheap paperback form after your recommendation.

QuoteBack to Ames, I've almost finished I Love You More Than You Know and I'm really impressed. Looking forward to reading those other books of his I've got lined up.

I enjoyed Bored to Death very much, by the way. Some of my love for it was probably down to Ted Danson as George Christopher (such a class act, that gentle voice, "I love Danny Kaye too!") but obviously Ames' vision is at the bottom of it all.

I hear you on the Danson front, it was the first thing I'd seen him in post Cheers (well, bar the odd episode of Becker) and he really blew mw away, I had no idea of how good an actor he was, and had loved Jason Schwartzman thanks to Rushmore, so it was a show I had an enormous amount of time for even before I knew about Ames involvement.

QuoteThanks for mentioning The Alchoholic. That's in my local library too but I'd sort-of ignored it in favour of the 'proper ones,' an error I will of course correct on your recommendation.

It's been a while since I've read it but I do own it so should give it a re-read, but my memory of it was that I was impressed with his take on the format, as there's been a good few novelists who have really disappointed when they've tried to write a comic, Margaret Atwood's Angel Catbird for instance is terrible!