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The Extra Man

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,177 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Louis Ives, the narrator of The Extra Man, fancies himself a young gentleman fashioned after his heroes in the books of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He dresses the part - favoring neckties, blue blazers, and sport coats. But he also has a penchant for women's clothing, a weakness that causes him to lose his job as a teacher at a Princeton day school after a bizarre incident involv ...more
Hardcover
Published August 3rd 1998 by Scribner Book Company (first published August 1st 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,990)
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Amanda
Mar 11, 2010 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Fred Northrup
Shelves: book-club
When I moved to New York, fresh from college, double liberal arts degrees in hand and looking for work in book publishing, I ordered a subscription (The Weekender! Natch!) to the New York Times. Reading the Times every weekend was part of my idea of the New York version of myself, something I had mashed together from my just-post-college ambitions and my nervousness, and from reading novels about people in similar situations in the city. I imagined I would read the paper over coffee and a bagel ...more
Kristopher Jansma
Well, I thought I loved Wake Up, Sir! last week, but this Ames novel has taken the cake. It's ending was far more satisfying and the entire thing much more complex and novely. Novel-ish?

If you'll recall, I was intrigued while reading the last book because the novelist/narrator was working on another book, which sounded a lot like this one. And I thought to myself, "Whoa... meta..." No, seriously, I thought to myself - damn I like this book a lot, but the book he's writing in this book sounds eve
...more
Ara
It's about Louis Ives and he's a closet deviant, but the complexity of his needs slowly dawns on the reader as the story continues. The comedy of the situation is that Louis wants to be a gentleman, in the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and he makes an effort every chance he gets to behave that way. While Louis fights within himself over his deviance, his roommate, Henry Harrison, provides the outright ridiculous dialogue that makes the book pure gold. The prose in both the descriptions and dialo ...more
Liz
Good thing Half-Price books was having a 20% off sale on Saturday, cuz my book buying addiction is getting serious... Just started this one today, and am half way done... Why do I find his wacky characters so appealing? Cluttered tiny Upper Eastside apt shared by 2 eccentrics. Transvestite bars. Guilt-ridden sexual escapades. Flying stuffed animal lions falling from the sky. My new favorite phrase: "curious maladjustment". Is Jonathan Ames straight and single? haha.
Brent Legault
Jan 22, 2008 Brent Legault rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, not anyone
There's a whole lot of hubbub about Ames but I don't understand it and after reading this book I'm thinking that maybe it's all been an elaborate hoax, cooked up by Brooklyn boosters and NPR affiliates to ruin my weekend.
Dan Trudeau
I wanted to like The Extra Man more than I did. There are things about the book I loved but I found myself working to keep going sometimes.

I think one of my biggest issues is Louis, the main character. I found him to be compelling at some points and downright irritating in others. I have no problems with a sexually insecure character in love with the idea of becoming a gentleman. In fact, I was happy he didn't come off as contrived as he could have. There was nothing about him that felt false or
...more
Cyn
I really wanted to give this 3.5 stars but I can't, that said this book was thoroughly enjoyable despite the fact that the main character is an annoying eccentric. It seems like a lot of reviewers read "Wake up, Sir" first, I read this first and am now reading "Wake up, Sir" so the meta references in WUS are meaningful to me. In any event this is a fun read though a bit gritty, the characters are well developed and never dull.
MaryBeth
I have this marked as 'READ' only because there is no option to choose re-read. This, in the last couple of years, has become one of favorite books with which to wile away a day on the couch, catching the sun through the window. Recommended to me by the author on twitter after I mentioned I didn't know where to start in his work, it's a book of contradictions. The story is simple yet complicated. The characters are basic yet somehow there is no short description of them. There are 2 main charact ...more
Marina
I love this author. I love this book. It's hysterical, seedy, perverted, honest. A page-turner. I wish I could read it all over.
Mark
I literally found this book while out for a walk, sitting on a bench. I thought why not? I found it humorous and intriguing; it presents some radical ideas that have a familar tone to them. We all have that person in our lives we secretly look up to and take guidance from for no other reason than it makes us happy to do so. Such is the relationship between Louis and Henry; the former being the admirer. The author keeps you wondering about the depth and nature of their relationship with each othe ...more
David
I enjoyed the hell out of this book, but I failed to review it before returning it to the library. Alas, this Jonathan Ames...all right, let's call it a classic...is by far one of the funniest books I've read all year. As my recent reading of My Less than Secret Life informs me, this book is not far from the embarrassing truth of Ames' reality. His character is a young man who fancies himself as a young Gentleman in the tradition of an F. Scott Fitzgerald character. He moves to New York City in ...more
Aspry  Jones
Johnathon Ames is a great writer. His prose and direct style definitely make for easy reading. His ability to create everyday people who get into the wildest situations make way for only slight suspension of disbelief.

We have Louis, a femmy but otherwise "straight" teacher in Princeton, NJ who loses his job after being caught dancing around his office in a lady coworker's undergarments. For some reason or another, he gets it into his head to move to New York City. His new roommate is Henry, an e
...more
lana
This novel is more of a character study than anything with a plot- Louis is a young man with a cross-dressing desire who gets fired from his job and moves to NYC, where he finds a cheap room with an elderly professor (Harry) who is very cheap, strange, and entertaining. The young man tries to sculpt his life in the shape of a "young gentleman" mostly in his dress and habits, but he can't seem to control his compulsions- he likes to wear bras and panties, and he hangs out at a transsexual bar whe ...more
Nicole
The Extra Man, by Jonathan Ames, is classically Ames. I am a huge fan of the author, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed this book (almost) as much as Wake Up Sir! and The Alcoholic. (To be frank, I couldn't adore many more books than Sir! It's truly a gift of literature.)

The Extra Man refers to the person needed at a dinner party with old ladies who no longer have a husband; an extra man is always needed to fill the seating gap. Louis Ives is a "young gentleman" wannabe who moves t
...more
christa
An obsession with a figure from the lit world does not necessarily mean that I like the object of interest. It just means I'll considering following him on Twitter, but change my mind. Delve into his canon with a cocked eyebrow. Sometimes I develop such a fixation that even I don't know if I hate the object of interest, or if I want to tie the object of interest to my bed for optimal hobbling.

Right now I'm interested in Jonathan Ames. I think I kind of hate him, I probably hate him. But I've add
...more
Kim
This book is so funny and clever. The voice is really unique and the scenes with Louis (the young gentleman) and Harrison (the extra man) are really like glittering jewels. Harrison is so much fun and I often laughed out loud while reading at some of their scenes. And it didn't hurt that Kevin Kline will be playing him in the film and is on the cover of my version as he is pitch perfect casting for this character. I loved how the tone of the novel, the "young gentleman about Manhattan" in the sp ...more
Tanya
It left me a little sad, and confused, because I felt like I only developed a true break through and connection with the characters and then the book was over. They occupy a filthy, muddled, made-up little microcosm of affected mannerisms, inspiring quotations, drunkenness, secrets, contradictory philosophies and repressed affections. But they are still very human, especially because they're so grotesque. The idea of Henry and the state he lives in, the man he's become, is both inspiring and hea ...more
Nicholas
Your highlight at location 531
I kept thinking that he was perhaps of a state of mind beyond eccentric, but there was also this constant underpinning of irony to everything he said which seemed to clearly indicate intelligence and sanity. He was conscious that he was outrageous, but he was also stating his honest beliefs.2b4c8b84B000FC0O5O

Your highlight at location 549
“Most frames are more beautiful than their pictures,” he said. “And less expensive.”2b4c8b84B000FC0O5O

Your highlight at location 8
...more
Sabra Embury
From the onset of "the Extra Man" I didn't know what to expect. I'd heard of Jonathan Ames's writing being filled with scatological, perverted, self-defacing, yet charming, humor, but I assumed that was mostly in his non fiction essays. Haha...wrong.

"The Extra Man" is about a sweet mid-twenties guy named Louis Ives, who gets let go from his teaching position in Jersey due to curious incident with a bra in a gym bag, mixed with terrible bystander timing.

This propels Louis into the stern arms of
...more
Tracy
The 3 stars is how I feel about the book, not necessarily an indication of the quality of it. I found the book to be quite repetitive and longer than it needed to be considering not much was accomplished (in my eyes).

The book is about a 26 year old who moves to New York after an embarrassing episode at work with a co-workers bra. He moves in with an older eccentric man who lives off wealthier women taking him out and lives on the cheap. Throughout the book the main character (Louis) struggles w
...more
Writer's Relief
In THE EXTRA MAN, Louis, a young, twenty-something writer, rents a room from a older gentleman named Henry--and ends up in the quirkiest of friendships. Louis struggles to find himself with regard to women and his sexuality, and wants so much to have open conversations with Henry. Henry, however, tells Louis that if they keep things private, their live-in relationship will run more smoothly.

Honestly, if you’re looking for a book that has a lot of action, you might be disappointed. THE EXTRA MAN
...more
YiShun
I've begun to realize that books whose jacket flap copy says they are "hilarious" yet "poignant" or some such variation are not for me.
This seemed to go nowhere forever. The relationship between roommates Henry and ... Chr*st, I can't even remember what the protagonist's name was now, and I just read the thing last night ... doesn't really hit a crisis point until the very end, really. And the protagonist (I can only remember his last name, Ives, and the moniker he used when he was picking up y
...more
Lorri Steinbacher
I really enjoyed the tone and tenor of this book. It was odd and sunny and also a little touching...and did I say odd? Henry is the type of character who seems as if it is impossible that he could exist in real life and yet you have a feeling that he actually might have. Completely implausible, yet ringing of truth. The sex parts seemed a little "Portnoy's Complainty" to me at times (not that I have read that book in 15 years, but it inspired the same sort of impatience in me, so the comparison ...more
Laura
I'm not sure why I let this book keep me away from Tristram Shandy, except that it was much faster to read and easier to follow. This book did not require me to re-read sentences a few times before I understood them. This was light and fun although perhaps longer than it should have been. A lot of the elements in and of themselves were interesting -- wanting to be a 'young gentleman' of a previous era, sexual confusion, having a mentor from whom you hide yourself, etc. -- and in combination with ...more
Djrmel
Louis Ives loses his job as a teacher in a Princeton, NJ boarding school, because of a minor cross dressing incident, and decides to start over in New York City. He also decides to continue on his path towards being a "young gentleman", using Fitzgerald and Waugh as his guides. Louis shares a rundown apartment with an eccentric elderly man who supplements his teacher's income by being an extra man (a well mannered man called upon to "even up" the male to female ratio at society events attended ...more
Stewart
Having loved Ames' brilliant comedic novel Wake Up Sir, I was very interested in checking out his back catalogue. The Extra Man does not reach the same hilarious heights as Wake Up Sir, but it is an amusing, enjoyable reading experience nevertheless. Ames has a tremendous knack for being able to place mad cap characters in rather traditional settings and portray the wonderfully quirky results in convincing fashion. In Louis and Henry, Ames molds truly memorable characters who, for all of their o ...more
Leora Bersohn
Silly but enjoyable evocation of arty,seedy pre-Giuliani NYC. Young, orphaned, and trying to fashion a self, the protagonist nurses obsessions with drag culture and, conversely, an Anglophile/WASP notion of gentlemanly comportment. The novel treats both elegaically: This is drag culture circa Paris is Burning, at the height of the AIDS epidemic and before RuPaul was a household name, and it is also the last gasp of New York's shabby intelligentsia. The description of a huddle of seventy-somethin ...more
Nickie
I love Jonathan Ames. For here is a man who adheres to the maxim that a writer should reveal everything that is ugly and shameful about himself. Dalliances with trans-sexuals, bra-stealing, delusions of Gatsby-esque grandeur. At one point during this book, I suddenly suspected that I'd read it before, but it turned out that he was just revisiting some of the same anecdotes from his other books. So... a bit samey, but sod it, that's some same old good stuff.

Ames' stock is clearly on the rise. Th
...more
Rick Bries
Odd, but somehow readable due to characters that become comfortable.
Ace
How disappointing; I can't figure out the rave reviews, other than reviewers loving the the idea of a young man around town who wants to an English gentleman but also likes cuddling with transvestites. Just a bleh novel - I kept waiting for some payoff or character development and got nowhere; the character who is supposed to charm us (his roommate) just comes across as a crank, and the odd vestiges of emotional moments seem misplaced. This is my second Ames novel where I've been left wanting; t ...more
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Jonathan Ames is the author of the books The Double Life is Twice As Good, I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, What's Not to Love?, My Less Than Secret Life, Wake Up, Sir!, I Love You More Than You Know, and The Alcoholic (a graphic novel illustrated by Dean Haspiel). He is the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs.

He is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a f
...more
More about Jonathan Ames...
Wake Up, Sir! The Alcoholic What's Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer I Love You More Than You Know My Less Than Secret Life: A Diary, Fiction, Essays

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“I'm on the verge of a total breakdown. Sciatica. Taxes. Cars. Fleas, possibly. It's an absurd existence.” 4 likes
“Try to think about more important things,' he said. 'Think about your soul, your character. Think about the freezer. It's a solid block of ice. It needs defrosting. There might a steak in there. Concentrate on things like that. There could be a meal in it.” 4 likes
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