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What's Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer [Hardcover]

Jonathan Ames
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 23 2000
"Jonathan Ames is one of the funniest writers in America," so says Jonathan Ames, who is actually writing this flap copy, which is the publishing industry term for the boastful fluff you read on the inner portion of most hardcover book jackets. So let the truth be known: Most writers write or at least rewrite their flap copy. And why not? They are writers after all. For the flap copy on my last novel, I had the audacity to pronounce that I was one of America's most talented young writers. My mother read that and was very proud, pointing it out to me. I then said to her, "I wrote that." But she was still proud; she probably didn't believe that I wrote it. In fact, she doesn't believe most of what I tell her, but that's probably because she couldn't take it if she did believe me. Which is a good way to describe this book, this comic autobiography: It's the kind of book one's mother shouldn't read, though there are several passages where I profess my great Oedipal love and desire for my mother, which she might find flattering. What else recommends this book, or, rather, what recommends me, since this book is about me. Well, I'm bald and ribald, I'm like Rabelais and Danny Kaye, sometimes I'm straight and sometimes I'm gay. Well, not really. I'm almost never gay, but it rhymed nicely with Kaye, and also I tend to be depressed rather than gay. But I do like to make others laugh, so if you're standing in a bookstore, I hope you'll find this book funny and I hope that you'll move on to my introduction, where I'll further implore you to keep reading, with the idea that you'll eventually purchase the book, which is the point, by the way, of flap copy.

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From Publishers Weekly

The publisher likens Ames's first nonfiction book to "a twisted man's version of Candace Bushnell's classic, Sex and the City." But that comparison does Ames a disservice. Not only can this novelist (I Pass the Night; The Extra Man) and former New York Press columnist (the book is a collection of his columns) write circles around Bushnell, as well as around Ames's fellow ex-Press sex columnist, Amy Sohn, but Ames's columns reveal a sweet, wide-open soul, despite their outr? subject matter. And make no mistake, the matter is very outr?. The first column of 33 (and an epilogue) arranged in loose chronological order concerns how Ames, who entered puberty only on the cusp of turning 16, felt the need before then to hide his "little," hairless penis from his high school tennis teammates and coach, and how he ran to his mother's bed to show her his first erection. Further columns relate his experiences with flatulence, diarrhea, enemas, VD, prostitutes, first love and so on; in each case, Ames details his adventures with humor, poking incessant fun at himself and his obsessions. Occasionally, his comic timing can seem forced, and the humor shtick; in fact, Ames is a performance artist as well as a writer. But more often the book is laugh-aloud funny and delightfully wry. Above all, though, it's suffused with a wonderful compassion and sense of tolerance--Ames likes to hang with transvestites and considers his closest friend an amputee misfit whose claim to fame is the Mangina, an artificial vagina he wears onstage. There are strong echoes of Henry Miller here, in Ames's embrace of the human condition in all its variants, but Ames is his own man, his own writer (with an elegant, assured prose style)--and deserves hordes of his own fans.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ames's work can usually be found in the New York Press column "City Slicker," and this is a collection of some of these columns. Ames chronicles his life's adventures, from delayed puberty through venereal warts, crabs, enemas, and blowjobs on the streets of Venice. The book jacket warns you that Ames "often crosses the line of 'good taste,' " which is quite true: this is definitely tongue-in-cheek, cosmopolitan humor. His warped adventures may shock some readers, although obviously his column has fans. The book focuses on stereotypically male topics like sex, drugs, and bodily functions. If you enjoy reading about the joys of producing an erection while holding in gas, this is the book for you. There are insightful moments that provide a glimpse into the struggles men face--baldness, penis size, part-time fatherhood. Seriously, there is some good stuff here for the reader who doesn't mind taking an outrageous path to get to it. Recommended for large public libraries.
-Kathy Ingels Helmond, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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I STARTED PUBERTY VERY LATE. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
I laughed aloud frequently while reading this self-effacing if not wholly self deprecating series of stories which appear to be author's true adventures.
Ames' writing is a lot like Woody Allen's humorous plays, old standup work, and screenplays... Readers get to laugh at the ridiculous yearnings and whines of a pitiful but somehow loveable nebbish, right? But Ames is apparently writing truthfully about his own sexual guilt, perversions, and fantasies. Quite remarkable that the writer can spin details of his unsavory problems with very taut, humorous prose. The result is, reader ends up rooting for the poor sap.
It's all here: sex with a transsexual, his Oedipus complex, tales of his pal the exhibitionist, prostitutes, getting the crabs, you name it. Reader just doesn't know what to expect next, but Ames always manages to top each story with the next. Perhaps just as much could be said for average reader's appetite for the bizarre and perverse. I would guess that Ames knows all too well what sells, and he's just happy to oblige. Food for thought, but meanwhile, just go ahead and laugh your way through.
Remarkably candid accounts and perfectly crafted humor make it impossible to dismiss him as a creepy pervert. Good old human frailty and honesty seem to prevail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Endearingly depraved Dec 12 2002
Jonthan Ames' claim to fame is, of course, his perverted subject matter. I won't say that fame isn't deserved, but I think it often causes people to overlook his unique gifts. First off, his prose is outstanding (though I recommend reading his novels "I Pass Like Night" or "The Extra Man" to see him really shine in that respect.) Above all else, what is most often overlooked about Ames is how really, when it comes down to it, he is just a nice, normal Jewish boy from New Jersey who deeply loves the people close to him and cares very much about what his parents think. Sure, the stories about sex and scatology are hysterical, but read his stories about his great aunt or his son and you will start to see the real Ames. It is Ames' compassion that makes these stories stand out. He's a very sweet and earnest person who is trying (with mixed results) to fit into a world that he doesn't quite understand and that doesn't quite understand him. I think anyone who has ever felt like an outsider (sexually or not) will see something of themself in these stories.
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By BMarro
An eight-hour flight across the Atlantic is never fun. Right? Well, in most cases the answer is an emphatic "right!" But, there are a few exceptions, and one of those exceptions would read as follows, "An eight hour flight across the Atlantic is never fun, UNLESS you are reading "What's Not to Love? : The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer" by Jonathan Ames." I am being honest when I tell you that on many occasions during the flight and the ensuing train ride to Venice, I encountered perplexed looks from the Italians as I roared out loud at Ames' riveting accounts of his personal adventures, triumphs, mishaps, idiosyncrasies, and follies.
In a time when we are barraged with images of violence from home and abroad, the hilarious (and vivid) image of Mr. Ames sitting in an undersized bath tub rubbing his head with a scalp "invigorator," finding new uses for his curtains, and providing a forum for a friend of his to showcase his "artwork," are MOST welcome and treasured by the imagination.
Ames doesn't just write, he pulls you into his world and lets you come along for one wild ride after another. For those of us who wear a tie everyday to our humdrum jobs and only dream about TRUE adventure, Jonathan Ames is our ONLY hope!
I strongly suggest you buy this book. Simply put, spending a few bucks to buy your own copy is cheaper and infinitely safer than experiencing an Ames-like existence for yourself!! Thank you Mr. Ames for living your life so that the rest of us can experience it from the backseat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Adventures of a smart, sweet , and very funny man Aug. 19 2001
Jonathan Ames is a thirtysomething New Yorker, a Princeton graduate, a former taxi-driver, a performance artist, a father, a devoted son and nephew, a lover of women, a friend to many, a romantic, and a very funny man. He is a raconteur, and writes about sex a lot. Puberty arrived late for him, and he still frets about size - even the size of his nose (too big, he says). He's been a model, but thinks he's ugly. He doesn't ever have much money. He worries about flatulence, and is beset by constipation (for which he takes a fiber supplement) and stomach troubles. He watches TV with his dad. He adores his mom. He's unconventionally sexual at times - fretting guiltily that his great-aunt Pearl, a real character with whom he is wonderfully close, lives nearby some of the locations of his escapades, and he isn't going to be stopping in to visit her.
He's insomniac and wonders how he could ever spend a full night with a lover, since he has so much trouble getting a good night's sleep, period. He is drawn to many women, endeavors to please them, and it would seem that he does. He is funny, but he is quite competent.
Ames freely admits to intense Oedipal conflicts (except for him they aren't conflicts; he embraces them - and they don't get in his way in the least). At the age of 28 he meets an appealing woman, a composer 37 years his senior. They go to bed, and have a lovely time of it. Ames describes the event in its entirety ("Oedipus Erects"). He's sweet. He wants you to laugh and to love him, and it's easy to do both.
Ames' revelations about love, attachment, sexuality, and his winsome acceptance of his own and others' foibles make this book a delight. He is sincere and sweet and uninhibited. He believes in love and friendship, and he has a great memory. This book is thoroughly worthwhile.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW
Hard to believe Ames could make some of these topics so comical. And he puts them forth in such a way that you're not sure if you're laughing AT him or WITH him. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to love, indeed!
I got this book the day after seeing the hilarious Jonathan Ames on Letterman, and what a treat! He's one of the most candid and funny writers I've ever read. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by "slugsandkisses"
5.0 out of 5 stars Spalding Gray for the Gen-X set
What was always ingenious about Spalding Gray's raconteurism was his way of explaining in very rational terms the way he'd made a total mess out of his life. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2002 by Jimmy Legs
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for your mother, but....
Are you uncomfortable with stories about sex, farts, poops, or foreign objects in your food? If so, then you ought to relax and learn to laugh about life. Read more
Published on May 17 2002 by John Brawley
5.0 out of 5 stars This Guy is a Real Writer
Forget Eggers and Sedaris, Ames is the real deal. Funny, sweet, and unpretentious. Eggers is so overtly clever that he makes you sick, and Sedaris is humorous mainly because of... Read more
Published on May 13 2002 by k
2.0 out of 5 stars ok
it was ok but not that good. it was trying to hard to be funny so it wasn't very funny like dave eggers or nick hornby or those guys who are more "real' writers instead of... Read more
Published on April 10 2002 by steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Are You Sick and Tired of Boring Short stories?
THEN READ THIS BOOK!!! For here you will not find tales of a misunderstood old man or unique black boy that some annoying liberal chic met doing volunteer work year's ago or any... Read more
Published on March 16 2002 by "mikapl01"
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!
Jonathan Ames is a brilliant and brave writer. His frank accounts about his sex life, his sexuality, his childhood and his friends and family are moving and hilarious. Read more
Published on Dec 14 2001 by Wendy C.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man with the Chipper Zipper
Reading "What's Not to Love" is like travelling with Walter Middy to a sex shop or getting to know the secret life of Woody Allen. Read more
Published on Dec 12 2001 by Lee Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrested Development? I think not!
As a transplanted New Yorker living in, of all places, Montana, I recommend this book with all the urgency of a too-full bladder. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001 by John Squillante
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