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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
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW Feb. 1 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
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. But you ARE laughing and that's the point. Good fun for those with a politically incorrect sense of humor. All others, beware!
Also recommended - NO ONE'S EVEN BLEEDING and DELANO
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5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to love, indeed! Jan. 27 2003
Format:Paperback
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. Not many people can reveal episodes of intestinal distress or having erections in the presence of an elderly great aunt to the public. Talking about its content makes it sound like the juvenile stuff of Farrelly Brothers movies, but it's not all lighthearted. He deals with issues of early fatherhood, failed love, and depression too. Ames writes it all with intelligence and a self-deprecating wink. This book is a gem!
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Format:Paperback
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 Spalding Gray for the Gen-X set Dec 17 2002
Format:Paperback
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. Ames does the same thing, albeit with his own twist. As Ames portrays himself in the essay collection, he's a man completely possessed by his own body ... and bodily urges. No matter how he tries to stop himself with intellect, his visceral desires take over, often getting him into a hilarious, bizarre kind of trouble. Only at the 11th hour is his brain able to swoop down and save him, and even then he doesn't completely get away clean. His voice is at once refreshingly candid yet self-loathing, a balance few authors are able to pull off this convincingly, or dare I say, endearingly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Endearingly depraved Dec 12 2002
Format:Paperback
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Not for your mother, but.... May 17 2002
Format:Paperback
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. That is what this book brings to the table: bold, uncensored, honesty about many aspects of life that we are often too timid to talk about or even think about for very long. Remember the thoughts you had when you were 14 years old? The time you saw something you shouldn't have, but your mind took off into fantasy? Jonathan Ames tells his (or his alter ego's) tales of embarrassment, insecurity, bizarre fantasy, and strange experiences. Not only is this book full of oddities, it is extremely funny. Read the book. Then go check out Jonathan Ames in person. His readings are events not to be missed. Perhaps he'll even arm wrestle you for a free book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Guy is a Real Writer May 13 2002
Format:Hardcover
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 his speaking style.
Ames is a real risker taker and a master prose stylist. I cannot recommend this book enough, especially if you are trapped in an M.F.A. program in creative writing. Breathe deeply of some real writing here.
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Most recent customer reviews
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
4.0 out of 5 stars What's not to love? Ames made an 8 hour flight to Rome fun!
An eight-hour flight across the Atlantic is never fun. Right? Well, in most cases the answer is an emphatic "right! Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2001 by BMarro
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