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The Alcoholic

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,861 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Acclaimed novelist Jonathan Ames writes his first comics work with the original graphic novel THE ALCOHOLIC, illustrated by THE QUITTER artist Dean Haspiel.

This touching, compassionate, ultimately humorous story explores the heart of a failing writer who's coming off a doomed romance and searching for hope. Unfortunately, the first place his search takes him is the bottom...more
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Vertigo (first published September 9th 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Anthony Chavez
This was an easy read, great story by Jonathan Ames, really touching, and very awesome art by Dean Haspiel.

A true to life almost memoir by Ames, my first read of his. I have been a long time supporter of his show Bored to Death, he always entertains me in his noir sort of way. He does, in his own way, remind me of Woody Allen. He writes humor but there is a great tragic aspect to his characters and the way Ames writes that character is sublime and unique, it truly makes him an artist.

The story i...more
I love that when you type 'alcoholic' in the search box, two Bukowsi books that don't have the word 'alcoholic' in their titles come up before anything else.

Anyway, I like Jonathan Ames. You like Jonathan Ames, right? We all like Jonathan Ames. Just like all of us, he grew up in New Jersey and then moved to New York. (well, maybe not all of us. Most of us though.) I haven't read all his books and, honestly, the most interesting thing to me (well duh) is how trans women continuously pop up in hi...more
Though this graphic novel is billed as a fictionalized account of Jonathan Ames struggles with alcohol, I'm gonna go ahead and label it a memoir. Ames story rings true on ever page and Haspiel's art works really well in this sad and painful book. Besides alcoholism, this book also has interesting subplots concerning homosexuality, virility, and death. Of course, there are some great moments of Ames humor as well. And although readers familiar with Ames will recognize parts of his life that he ha...more
Feb 12, 2009 Christina rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Christina by: Jim's former co-workers
I didn't have any expectations about this book, and I still hated it.

"The Alcoholic," which is actually written by Jonathan Ames and drawn by Dean Haspiel (stupid Web site people), is about Jonathan A., a young man who starts drinking at the age of 15, really enjoys drinking, and becomes (guess what?) an acoholic. The book is about his troubles with alcohol and his visit to rehab and his relapse into alcoholism.

I'm sure I'm probably supposed to think that parts of the book are really funny. And...more
This graphic novel focused on Jonathan A. (the main character) and his alcoholism, and how his battle with it affected everything in his life. There were so many wonderful, poignant, tragic and even funny details... I loved his devotion to his best friend, even when said friend ditched him for no apparent reason. I loved it when he referred to his ex-girlfriend by the city she happened to be living in at the time and came to refer to himself as "her bitch" because he couldn't let her go. I loved...more
Jonathan Ames, at the moment, is someone who entertain me greatly. In many ways he reminds me of Woody Allen. The character in his fiction is very much the same. Totally self-obsessed and funny. But there is a tragic aspect to this character and the way Ames writes that character and make it funny is what makes him an artist or even... an entertainer.

i pick up his books expecting to be entertained or at the very least to be part of his world. What we have here is Ames world in a comic book forma...more
He drinks. He stops drinking. He drinks again. He stops drinking again. He does drugs. He stops doing drugs. He does drugs again...

and so on and so on and dubby dubby do.

but woven in with all that, there are complicated relationships, loss, and confusion that would exsist even if he were always sober.

sometimes sad but not crushing.
sometimes hopeful but not cheesy.
and sometimes funny.

Jason Coleman
This might be the most pitiful public-humiliation spectacle since Coetzee's Summertime. "J. Ames" is not only a hopeless alcoholic and doper; he is sexually confused, prematurely bald, orphaned, even incontinent. The hell-on-earth of addiction is vividly evoked, and Ames achieves a nice mix of humor and awful honesty. The graphic-novel format (the unfussy art is by Dean Haspiel) suits the material; it's the perfect shorthand for this odyssey. But because the story is not strict memoir, one wonde...more
Jonathan Ames writes this graphic novel about his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. The illustrations are simple and clean. I can sum it up pretty quickly, Ames started drinking while he was young, and quickly became a self-absorbed alcoholic which messed up everything in his life.

It doesn’t really get much more interesting than that, he continuously finds something small in his life like a girl he likes, then messes up this new relationship by focusing on himself and his insecurities. T...more

This would easily have gotten a five-star rating from me, with the really well done artwork, a very engaging storyline, a deep emotionally driven character and subject... but this is another of those 'books without an ending'.

I don't mind open-ended books, mind you- but books that just trickle off into nothingness... that drives me a little crazy.

So if that doesn't bother YOU, then you might like this book even MORE than I did! ...and I liked it a lot.

It focuses on a man who is, as the title say...more
Ratan Sebastian
Having known of Jonathan Ames mainly from the TV show, Bored to Death or the movie adaptation of his book "The Extra Man", I must declare at the outset that this novel is not what I was expecting. A lot of my expectations had to do with pace. Bored to Death episodes are 22 minutes of tragi-comedy that never lets up. The characters, the plot and the setting all conspire to make sure that there's never a moment of boredom. While the vignettes and anecdotes here are equally amusing and reveal more...more
I picked this up cheap, 'cause I'd heard about it, it looked interesting, and it was a Vertigo book, always a good sign. Ames' story, presented as fiction, but reading like a memoir, hooked me from the very beginning. It showed his beginnings of drinking as a teenager, and how that's affected his life ever since, even though he becomes a successful author. The first half of this book blew me away, with its depiction of graphic sex (the main character's sexual awakening is painful and poignant) a...more
Good production values, but ultimately disappointing. Several relevant and meaty themes are touched upon in this book. Unfortunately, they are filtered by a protagonist who views the world through a drinking straw trained at his own navel (and crotch, more often than not.) The reader is left wondering why they should give a crap about someone so relentlessly pathetic, unthinking, and self-absorbed as to be repulsive.

Overall pacing is adequate enough to keep the pages turning, despite the repetit...more
This was a really excellent graphic novel. I love Vertigo line and the book they put out and while the art in this book was just serviceable, the story itself was really good and engaging. Jonathan Ames wrote an incredibly honest memoir about his struggle with love, loss and addictions, particularly the titular one. If this was a fictional story, it would also work just based on the characters and strength of writing alone.I'm only familiar with the author from the very entertaining, albeit shor...more
Emily Green
Jonathan Ames’s The Alcoholic tells the tale of a self-destructive addict who finds himself helpless to drugs and alcohol, but also to the fear of abandonment. He traces Jonathan A.’s story back to his childhood, one in which expectations for him were overwhelming at best, and to the lost relationship of his best friend, Sal. Ames reveals the requisite embarrassing and astonishing past of the addict without revealing or moving forward to recovery. The story suggests the ability to survive and ev...more
Decent graphic memoir/novel about an alcoholic writer named Jonathan A. How Jonathan A. correlates to Jonathan Ames is unclear. Jonathan A. writes detective fiction; Jonathan Ames does not, although in the oughts, apparently, he was the showrunner of an HBO series called Bored to Death about a writer/shamus named Jonathan Ames. All of that is annoyingly meta in a way that is less than daisy-fresh, but the book, whatever it is, is pretty good. One of the reviewers here was very impatient with the...more
I don't know anything about John Ames but I really enjoyed this as a graphic novel. It's a fast read, really honest and vulnerable about his experiences with alcoholism and drug abuse. Tales of sexual confusion and mishaps make him particularly vulnerable. The reviews said it was really funny but I did not find it funny, I found it sad and honest. Definitely entertaining too.
Alexander Briggs
It's been a long time since I read a graphic novel. I unsure how I felt about this one. It depicts a truthful image of The Alcoholic. I was carried along with the story and found my way to the end. At no point did I find a deep understanding or connecting with any message within the writing. I left agreeing that it was a cookie cuter alcoholic.

I had picked it up to understand more about Jonathan Ames. I may need to pick up Wake Up, Sir, to learn more.

The lesson learned is why we write for nove...more
dontfeed thetiki
I don't think I feel bad for this guy.
From the first page, this book reminded me of Harvey Pekar's stuff. And it's not just because, as I found out later, Dean Haspiel -- who partnered with Pekar for The Quitter -- did the art. It's that kind of candid, modern, messy biography that Pekar has become known for. American Splendor is, of course, his most famous example, but I have also read and enjoyed Bebopman! and Ego & Hubris.

But they aren't exactly twins. This book is only semi-autobiographical,and I found it to be rather more...more
Mike Aragona
The one thing that really struck me while I was reading (and thoroughly enjoying this book) is just how much more difficult and uncomfortable it would have been to read it without Dean Haspiel's art. Dean's style is such that the depraved antics of Jonathan A are easier to swallow since the brutality of his existence isn't so readily apparent.[return][return]The book itself, about a man dealing with his own sexuality and addictions could almost be the hidden secrets of the guys you went to schoo...more
I read The Alcoholic straight through in a couple hours, primarily because once I started, I couldn't put it down. Ames has crafted a compelling semi-autobiographical narrative about Jonathan A., a middle-aged writer with a reasonably successful career, and a severely fucked up personal life. It's dark, funny, and oddly believable, even at the points where you find yourself saying "this part must be fiction". It's unsanitized yet unapologetic, as the best addiction stories often are, and Dean Ha...more
Jonathan Briggs
Every instinct tells me I should hate the show “Bored to Death,” novelist Jonathan Ames’ foray into TV. It’s too cutesy-clever by half. It’s self-absorbed. It’s neurotic. It’s New York to the core. All things that normally make my fists clench. And yet in its first season, I pretty much caught every episode. In "The Alcoholic," a fictionalized memoir in the comix medium, Ames peels back the TV layer of detective make-believe, to deliver a lacerating self-portrait of "Jonathan A." Jon A is driven...more
A slightly fictionalized graphic-novel memoir that, while aptly told, fails to overwhelm. Novelist Jonathan Ames tells the story of novelist Jonathan A., an alcoholic since he first started drinking at 15. Jonathan rues his losses (loves, friends, loved ones) to an obsessive degree--it's actually a feat of remarkable storytelling that this all doesn't get more annoying than it is, but Jonathan is an amiable (if slightly bothersome) guide through the milestones of his life.

Ames himself makes some...more
S. Wilson
The danger with autobiographical works like The Alcoholic is that they tend to run the risk of forgetting about the audience. Some author/artists (Milk & Cheese creator Evan Dorkin springs easily to mind) delve into this territory with good intentions, but invariable end up obsessed with nothing more than their own shortcomings and failings. The reader is reduced to nothing more than a reluctant therapist, or even worse, a captive audience to one artist’s obsession with hating himself.

Not al...more
Tom Waters
Admitting That I Was Powerless: Jonathan Ames’ The Alcoholic

I’ve unwittingly become the Stanley Kubrick of comic books.

I don’t mean that I have even a fraction of the famous director’s talent, drive or vision. I’ve always respected his work, but he’s from a completely different headspace and left a legacy larger than anything I could ever do. Allow me to explain.
Kubrick had a habit of throwing books at the wall in his office. His secretary would hear him throwing books at the wall all day bas...more
I feel strongly about the quality of a good number of books that I've previously read and have listed on here, but this is the first time I felt compelled to share any words. While the writing style may lack a fluid organization of words at times (which I think speaks more of the author's failure to truly hear the sound of word order than a genuine exercise is realism), it is still a masterful tale of obsession and addition, plainly and simply laid out, given depth through simple blank-and-white...more
May 14, 2009 Rhlibrary added it
Shelves: dave-s-picks
Just like a Long Island Iced Tea, this book is not for beginners and not for kids. But it is also, like the aforementioned, unbeatable. The Alcoholic is Jonathan Ames’ first—hopefully not his last—foray into the graphic novel world. Teamed with award-winning artist Dean Haspiel, Ames tells the life story of “Jonathan A.,” who, we might assume, is a fictionalized version of himself. (Perhaps thinly fictionalized? Just a guess.) The book covers Jonathan’s rocky adolescence, his sexual misadventure...more
JSA Lowe
I...just was not as taken with this as I wanted to be. And I love the literature of addiction/alcoholism—LOVE IT, with the fervour I typically reserve for being passionately in love with, well, addicts and alcoholics. But this somehow jangled and didn't quite, almost, but didn't—I don't even know what. The story lops off at the end in a very Moth-broadcast kind of way, and there were parts that just seemed to need to be said aloud...I don't think the genre transplantation quite took here. Also,...more
Ames doesn't really bring anything new to the alcoholic narrative but Haspiel more than makes up for it with his art work. The story felt a bit rushed, which was both a pro and con. Pro because it kept the story moving, con because it didn't give much time for characters to develop. But maybe that was the point, that alcoholics move through life solipsistically, narcissistically, not letting the people in their lives develop into nourishing, stable relationships. Well, not narcissistically becau...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 Extra Man 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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