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The Extra Man

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,371 Ratings  ·  123 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
Published August 3rd 1998 by Scribner Book Company (first published August 1st 1998)
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Mar 11, 2010 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  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
May 12, 2008 Kristopher Jansma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookblog
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 01, 2008 Ara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2015 Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bored to Death fans, people who find Fitzgerald ridiculous
What a strange and frequently funny novel.

The Extra Man is about an orphan with aspirations toward living as a Fitzgeraldian "young gentleman" and finding a mentor to that effect in New York City. Extra Man is also about how neuroses get in the way of our aspirations, and how normalcy itself is its own kind of neurosis. Ultimately though, Extra Man is about finding an unusual kind of love in a circuitous, sad way.

The two central characters of Extra Man are not particularly likeable, but they are
Sep 13, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 did not like it  ·  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
Dec 01, 2010 Dan Trudeau rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jul 19, 2010 Tanya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 19, 2010 Yi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2009 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect for a fun read. Brilliantly drawn characters, fleshed out so that they are real humans, not "types" or "character" although they are eccentric or even weird. The writing is bright and witty, but still allows one to empathize with Louis' loneliness, longings, and occasional sadness. Parental warning: X-rated for revealed body part, sex with fluids, trannies & cross-dressers, but never salacious, and never gratuitous (if there is sex, it reveals something about the character's innher s ...more
May 25, 2016 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O Acompanhante, de Jonathan Ames, é um livro um bocado improvável nos escaparates das livrarias portuguesas, que normalmente fogem de tudo o que escapa ao canone (seja ele literário ou comercial) como o diabo da cruz. O livro de JA situa-se claramente nas margens do sistema, não exactamente por ser militante da contra-cultura, mas apenas porque nos traz personagens e uma história de pessoas a quem falta o estofo, e as angústias, da classe média.

Trata-se da história de um pacato e jovem professor
Feb 16, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I greatly enjoyed the writing on Jonathan Ames HBO show "Bored to Death", so I picked up his novel "Wake Up, Sir!". I loved it, and then chose "The Extra Man" for my book club. Although I think it is a weaker text than some of Ames other novels, it is a very easy and enjoyable read.
First off, "The Extra Man" is vulgar, gratuitous, and graphic when it comes to sexual thought and exploration. If this is not something you are comfortable with, then don't pick the book up. It is a pervasive part of
Dec 01, 2008 Cyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rick Lenz
Sep 17, 2015 Rick Lenz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the second of two Jonathan Aames novels I've read. I read "Good Morning, Sir" first, loved it and wanted more (I'd already read several of his non-fictions). What I got was greater depth, a wider range of great characters and honest, quirky, thought-provoking events and the commentary that goes with them. I saw the movie after reading "The Extra Man." Read the book. It's great!"
Jun 08, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it
A sweet, smartly funny and audacious comic novel for those with an open mind. The narrator, Louis Ives, is struggling to find his identity in more ways than one (what should he do? where should he live? whom should he love? why is he so smitten with ladies' underwear?), which makes his affinity with Fitzgerald and the Lost Generation that much more appropriate. The older man who becomes his mentor, Henry Harrison, is facing similar struggles (how to stay relevant in society and keep up appearanc ...more
Mary Lautner
Mar 29, 2015 Mary Lautner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the better reviews. At first I felt very squeamish about the transsexual interactions and the hypersensitivity to women, but as one reviewer so aptly put it, these are portraits of men done with honesty and care. The relationship between the two men is what this book is about and they are happier for it. Louis is fired for stealing and wearing a bra from a coworker. He decides to move to New York. He has very little money, so he finds Henry Harrison who lives in a cramped, dirty, one bedroo ...more
Feb 09, 2014 MaryBeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2009 Marina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 13, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 11, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Mar 23, 2012 lana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 22, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 25, 2009 Nicholas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gee
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
Sabra Embury
Oct 30, 2009 Sabra Embury rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jnanasiddhy Raghavendra
Where labels are ubiquitous encompassing all human traits, to hold a story about a young man of ambiguous sexuality amusing AND touching is some crafty storytelling. This is a wonderfully weird book and all of Henry's wickedly conservative opinions are funny in a way how you find your grandma racist and slyly enjoy it. This is not for the judgemental and the shallow of the heart. I look forward to reading more of Mr.Ames works! Turns out he is/was dating Fiona Apple. Another USP!
Apr 22, 2016 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-clubs
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
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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
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“I'm on the verge of a total breakdown. Sciatica. Taxes. Cars. Fleas, possibly. It's an absurd existence.” 5 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.” 5 likes
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