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The Alcoholic

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,825 ratings  ·  330 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
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Vertigo (first published September 9th 2008)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  2,825 ratings  ·  330 reviews

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Tina Haigler
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Story: 4 stars!
Art: 5 stars!

I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to like this one. It is called The Alcoholic after all. I read it in one sitting. Apparently I like memoir style comics with good art and writing. Who knew? I really felt for the main character. There were a lot of times I rolled my eyes at him too though. The first half of the book was better, or more interesting to me, but that could be because the second half was more melancholy.

I would definitely recommend it. It's a good
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
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some spoilers. Fairly compelling and relatable memoir-like tale of a natural born drinker, with plenty of poignant moments and pretty good art work. The writing is simple and straightforward, but it works well with the black and white shadowy illustrations and noirish tempo. The writer throws in a truck-full of drama and heavy themes, including death, mourning, heartbreak, homosexuality, aids, 9/11, coke and heroin use, and lots of spewing bodily fluids, but also keeps a light balance with old ...more
Ill D
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gentlemen and Scholars
Since it’s a new year, I decided to do something new. Instead of picking something unread from the bookcase or the hard drive, I dove back into the stack of read books to give one an ol’ reread. Fingers sifted. Closed eyes opened and Jonathan Ames’ lush autobiography was chosen.

Under more aged eyes I definitely found more to be critical of yet also found a lot more to enjoy as well.

Featuring a highly exposed approach, the author’s transparency is as confessorial as it is painfully honest.
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.

Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
First off, incredible artwork by Dean Haspiel. He's obviously informed by the superhero genre, which has never been of interest to me personally, but I kept marveling at his mastery of form, interesting perspective and shadow/light.

However, as much as I enjoyed the artwork, I think I found it distracted from or lessened the emotional impact of the story. It somehow comes across as inauthentic when a cartoonist tries to heighten your emotions with exaggerated facial expressions and extreme
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 ...more
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Leslie Jamison
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
How to describe the experience of reading this book? It was like cringing for several hours straight, trapped in a bar booth with a man twice my age who might want to sleep with me but is probably too drunk to pull it off, all the while he's using words like "mid-list" and "self-care." It was like that. Intense like that. But also heartbreaking, and expert at summoning its own inky little claustrophobic world.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was sad but definitely as an alcoholic myself -- many years away from my last drink -- I can relate to this kind of life and can tell this is someone's true story. Kind of funny at points and as I said very sad. Unfortunately realistic too as many of us have a similar sort of depressing past. Reading this made me think over and over "thank God I don't drink anymore."
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
When I picked up this graphic novel from the library, I had no idea who Jonathan Ames was. Upon further investigation, I'd never even heard of any of his works, be they book, film, or TV show, save one (Blunt Talk). But even that one show I've never seen and only knew of it because Patrick Stewart played the titular role.

I gathered from the liner notes that this was the fictionalized memoir of a writer (Jonathan A.) who struggled with alcohol. Having had my own wanderings down that path over a
Roberto López castillo
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's a great story about the life of an Alcoholic in which the alcohol acts as the door for other stronger drugs. The depiction of self-destruction is very accurate and actually moving. I felt sorry for the character, seeing the misery he went down, the self-destruction he was willing to inflict along with the lack of emotional strength he's very aware of.

He's simply open to try any drug and forget about his existence, he just wants to scape. There are some very dramatic scenarios depicted:

Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The ending of the book resolved absolutely nothing. Other than that, it was a decent graphic novel memoir.
Ratan Sebastian
Jun 03, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
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) ...more
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels

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
Charles Dee Mitchell
If you have read My Less Than Secret Life, you know that Ames is willing to take the confessional mode to excruciating, almost absurd extremes. The question is always there, just how much of this can be true? In this graphic novel, he offers himself up as the embodiment of the alcoholic author. Jonathan A. drinks just like the authors he most admires, but from his first drunks in high school and on into his 30's, he knows that his drinking is abusive and compulsive. Although the story opens with ...more
Tracy Towley
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
As far as graphic novels about alcoholics go, this was pretty solid. Though it's billed as fictional, from what I understand about Mr. Ames I'm pretty sure this is pretty solidly a memoir. The protagonist, who goes by the name of Jonathan Ames, no relation, I'm sure, starts drinking heavily at the young age of 15. He make a series of alcoholic decisions, each with more and more dramatic consequences, and gets sober at a relatively young age. After many years of sobriety he decides to pick up the ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sequential-art
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
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've never read any of the author's other books, but I enjoyed this one. A graphic novel, definitely for adults! Deals with alcoholism, homosexuality, drugs and a little transsexualism thrown in for good measure.

A sad book that I found myself not being able to put down.
Even if you are not sure you like graphic novels, I would suggest giving this one a try if you are interested in alcoholism. His drinking started in his teens years and stayed with him through his adulthood.
Joey Alison Sayers
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
I like a lot of Jonathan Ames' writing - though his near-ubiquitous representations of trans women usually make me feel pretty uncomfortable. Overall, this book was not my favorite. A little too getting-off-on-how-pathetic-you-find-me.

Plus one star for Ames' intentionally hilarious author photo. Minus one star for Dean Haspiel's horrible cocky bro photo.
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
dontfeed thetiki
Feb 25, 2009 rated it liked it
I don't think I feel bad for this guy.
Lee Klein
Mar 13, 2010 rated it liked it
All the classic Ames themes, plus Monica Lewinsky eating a sausage at Velselka. More sad and confessional than funny. I have one of those fringe diagram printouts somewhere . . .
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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
“I hid my underwear beneath a parked Peugeot.” 4 likes
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