Jonathan Ames' new book widely acclaimed.
Compiling 33 columns that were originally published in the New York Press, Jonathan Ames’ “What’s Not To Love? The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer” (Crown) was recently released to widespread acclaim.
Publisher’s Weekly said the book — which includes Ames’ descriptions of his experiences with flatulence, diarrhea, enemas, VD, prostitutes, and his first erection — is “laugh-aloud funny and delightfully wry” and that his columns “reveal a sweet, wide-open soul.” New York Times Book Review critic Elise Harris admired the “light beauty” of the collection, concluding that Ames’ “lapidary prose style rapidly seduces the reader into taking his pleasures with him.”
According to New York Press Editor John Strausbaugh, Ames had been writing his biweekly “City Slicker” column for more than two years before he decided to call it quits around the same time the book hit the streets. His departure was amicable, Strausbaugh said.
“We liked Jonathan’s writing from the very first piece he sent us,” Strausbaugh told us via e-mail. “It was either the one about the wart on his penis or his great-aunt unintentionally getting him off. No matter. It was funny, literate, perverse, neurotic, probably only half-true, and, at that time, could only have been published by New York Press.”
In a recent interview with another publication, Ames explained that he had grown tired of the newspaper column format. “The form itself, being a specific word count, was like writing a sonnet every two weeks. I was getting tired of that; it had played itself out,” Ames said. “It was fun for a while, was fun to be out there in New York. I’m amazed at the number of diverse people that picked up the Press and read my column.”
Strausbaugh said it’s always preferable to have a writer leave a paper rather than the other way around, although he admitted that Ames’ departure could have been more suitably timed. “The timing was a little screwy, considering he had this book-length collection of the columns coming out just about at the same time he was ending the column, but ‘a little screwy’ is Jonathan’s M.O.”
Ames previously published two novels, “I Pass Like Night” and “The Extra Man.” He also performs frequently as a storyteller in New York theaters and nightclubs, and his one-man show, Oedipussy, debuted last year off-off-Broadway. He was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Meanwhile, another New York Press columnist also has a new book out.
”Quitting the Nairobi Trio” (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam), which describes Jim Knipfel’s six-month confinement in a psychiatric ward following several suicide attempts, was called “a zany lark of a read” by critic Daphne Merkin and made the list of “editors’ choices” in this week’s New York Times Book Review.