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The Double Life Is Twice as Good: Essays and Fiction

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  610 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Wildly original novelist, essayist, and performance artist Jonathan Aames delivers his best collection yet—a hilarious, risqué, and loveable selection of articles, essays, and fiction, including several previously unpublished pieces.With an HBO pilot based on this collection’s centerpiece (“Bored to Death”), his two hilarious novels, The Extra Man and Wake Up, Sir!, in dev ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Scribner (first published July 1st 2009)
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May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
Let's be honest: it's not like there was a chance I wasn't going to like this book. Jonathan Ames is the best best best, though of course extremely polarizing – you either want to hear about trannies and suckling and bizarre sexual escapades and shitting oneself, or you don't. And I guess if you asked me that question not in the context of a Jonathan Ames book, I probably wouldn't be so enthusiastic about all those subjects. But there is something so sweet and simple about the way he writes abou ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is for Jonathan Ames, so if you're not Jonathan Ames you can read it but you might not get that much out of it.

Oh, Jonathan Ames, this is a half-assed book. I enjoyed it, and blew through it- semifictional and confessional accounts of sexual inadequacy, New York City, New Jersey Jewishness and Lenny Kravitz are the book equivalent of nachos- but I don't feel like I'm walking away with much. You're obsessed with transsexual women and objectifying them in a way that reads like you're
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically a collection of loose ends by one of the most enjoyable living american authors right now. Reading Ames is sort of like putting butter on a really hot piece of toast. You know it is going to taste great, and this gentlman never fails me.

What we have here are introductions, short stories and some journalistic pieces. His interview with Marilyn Manson is great. The book will be coming out shortly.
Sam Quixote
Jonathan Ames is a writer whose work is very up and down in terms of quality – on the one hand you’ve got fine, fun fiction like Bored to Death and on the other you have an overlong, uninteresting comic like The Alcoholic. The Double Life is very representative of Ames’ work with the essays and short stories collected here proving this dichotomy.

The opening selection, Bored to Death, is really good. A bored novelist called Jonathan Ames posts an ad on Craigslist pretending to be an amateur, unl
I like Jonathan Ames. I like his style. I share a lot of the same, mildly perverted, interests as he does.

However, "The Double Life" suffers from double dipping on content. Some of the pieces are great fun, and none are bad. But almost all are repeated, essentially the same, throughout the book. The "Department of Redundancy Department" called, flustered about the frequent allusions to transexuals and semi-poverty.

By the time I'd read the fourth story that based itself, marginally, around the t
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I laughed out loud. I was perplexed as to what was fiction and what wasn't because, could this really be his life?

It's great. You should read it. Especially you, Kayleigh Shaw--it's coming your way.
Thurston Hunger
Hard-boiled, but still not quite cooked all the way through. To be a bon vivant these days, you've got to take some shots I guess, or just osmotically absorb some of the lifestyles of the rich and famous by interviewing them. The odd blend of the self-deprecating with the self-assured didn't quite provide the mood lighting for me that apparently is does for many fine libidinous young people. Is that an offshoot of Lenny Kravitz' commitment to celibacy.

Overall an easier read than it wants to be.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed The Double Life... and recommend it to folks who enjoy Sedaris, Palahniuk, & Waters. Funny & well-paced...nothing gruesome, but a fair share sexual encounters. Will definitely explore his other work.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The piece "Bored to Death" that is the basis for the HBO show is REALLY good. The rest just kind of cobbled together. It has some great moments.

I only read the first story, Bored to Death and started watching the show on the behest of my boyfriend; I laughed. Hard. So I was definitely intrigued by the short story, finding it at an exceptionally local book/music/movie, etc. trade store. Whilst Jonathan Ames describes his alcoholism, it reminded me of someone close to me. After reading the page in the introduction of the show, I figured I'd enjoy the story as well. Ames is likable and straightforwar
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book from the moment that my friend Rebecca grabbed it off of a shelf at the venerable City Lights (that's right, I dropped that name) and said, "This is the book that Bored to Death was based on!" (Bored to Death, for the uninitiated, is a mystery-comedy series that used to run on HBO that has now been cancelled. The main character is a fictionalized Jonathan Ames. I think it is the second-funniest show ever after, of course, the ne plus ultra that is Arrested Devel ...more
Mar 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the Jonathan Ames I thought I knew from HBO's BORED TO DEATH (which is a short story in this collection, and, man, is it hardcore, and not light and funny like the show. Very disturbing, actually). Ames is in his forties, and this work is a collection of short stories, personal essays, and old columns from various magazines and newspapers.

On the one hand, I found Ames contemptuous, in his language and in the way he admits to his failings. He's obsessed with sex: it's featured (often
Kevin Krein
sometimes, i wish that ames wasn't so self-referential. starting with his novel "wake up, sir!," just about everything he's put out since then-- fiction or not-- references his previous work or characters. it gets confusing honestly, constantly blurring the lines between his essays and fiction.

anyway, this latest collection of short stories and essays felt phoned-in to me. it opens with a somewhat refreshing short story called "bored to death," which is the basis for a new HBO series i guess. fr
Mar 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do really like Jonathan Ames but this 'collection' is just taking the piss. Consisting of a few good short stories, a load of bragging about some shags he's had and some scribblings he found round-a-bout his flat stopping just short of the label on his underpants. Does anyone really want to read the foreword that he wrote for another book? Or an email that he sent to his friends? Because he really does include an email that he sent to his friends. Or the tedious diary of his teenage travelings ...more
Robert Kemp
Though I gave this book 3 out of 5, I still greatly enjoyed it. I' d never read anything by Jonathan Ames, nor had I ever heard of him. I thought the title was interesting and picked it up out of curiosity at Barnes and Noble. I was pleasantly surprised to find an engaging interview with Lenny Kravitz. The rest of the book turned out to be a bizzare collection of interviews, essays, and short fiction. The thing I like most is how personal and intrusive this book is. It contains thoughts and outl ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
I really enjoyed the Bored to Death story, better than the series, I think, but then I'm also a fan of Chandler, Hammett, and so on.

I also really enjoyed the journalism section. I was reminded in a good way of Chuck Klosterman--a flawed journalist/essayist with some writing talent and interesting topics.

The personal essays and fiction sections weren't bad, but somewhat repetitive. How many times do you want to read the author likes to go down on women? If you think more is better, this is the bo
Sure, he's already done a couple of other books like this (essays, articles, fiction that seems like real life) but Ames is just so good at it. Besides the painfully familiar and hilarious stories about his love life and weird friends, some of the best highlights here come from the journalism chapters, where Ames immerses himself into another celebrities life--like Marylin Manson or Lenny Kravitz. It would be great to someday read a whole book of these kind of profiles by Ames. Oh--and you also ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Obviously I picked the wrong Ames book to start with. It's pretty lazy, and aside from the Bored to Death story, not worth anyone's time. I feel like he knew it would be an easy paycheck to slap together previously published articles, an email, and some scribbled semi-autobiographical essays on fucking trannies--none of which made me think he was a singular, uniquely talented author.

His style, which largely consists of not using contractions, is quirky and enjoyable initially. Then at some point
Chris Ruggeri
Woohoo! Done with the Ames! Only took me seven months, give or take. Always seems to happen with me and short story collections. Especially ones like this where it's basically just Ames empyting out his hard drive. He's got everything in here from meandering self-indulgent diary entries to six word articles to graphic comics. It just seemed all over the place and I couldn't get into a rhythm with it and it's more graphic than I would really prefer. Guess it just wasn't for me. Still, feels good ...more
B.T. Hogan
Not one of Ames' best, and I think even he would attest to that. Still, there are some worthwhile moments: I especially liked the story of when he reviewed hotels in the gentrified Meatpacking district of Manhattan, and his interview with Marilyn Manson was insightful and entertaining.

But if you want really good storytelling in short form, I suggest picking up Ames' other works, like I Love You More Than You Know or My Less Than Secret Life.
Leo Lichy
A mix of the best and worst of Jonathan Ames – Bored To Death is well written, if very different in tone from the TV series, but the short stories are disappointing and most of the personal essays are trite. As a journalist, Ames is outstanding and it’s a pity there aren’t more of his articles in this collection. “Middle-American Gothic” and “We’re Not All Some Cindy!” are the standout pieces, but all of these articles are first-rate.
Dean Anderson
My two star rating is an average. There were pieces I might have given 3 or 4 stars (Ames' account of his boxing career and the short story that was the basis of "Bored to Death".) But there were pieces I despised. No need to read about a balding, middle-aged single man's sex life. And it takes some nerve to include excerpts from his teenage journal like excerpts from a teenager's journal. The comic at the end was fun.
Jan 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of this stuff is legitimately funny. Some of it is just Ames cleansing his soul by admitting his dirty deeds. A few of these are joyless hookup stories that aren't all that interesting or entertaining.
I think what I'm trying to say is that Ames confuses honesty with humor. It may be honest to write openly about your most embarrassing sexual encounters, but it's not necessarily funny. At times it seems like he's doing it more for himself than for his readers.
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Ames' latest offering is entertaining but suffers from its brevity and somewhat repetitious journalism outings. The latter is hardly Ames' fault... magazine editors apparently can't bring themselves to dispatch our dear author for anything other than fish-out-of-water interview pieces.

It's a quick, entertaining read that is over too quickly. Here's hoping he has a novel in the works.

Very funny, but spotty. Super-entertaining in the way of wickedly clever memoirists (Sedaris, Rakoff, etc, etc.) There's something relaxing about this genre of nonfiction to me. Yeah, my sensibilities and sense of humor kicked back at me. But the fact that it is imperfect makes it kind of perfect as an intelligent, but laid-back read. I also love the TV series Bored to Death, made from the first (fiction) story in this collection.
Shani Jayant
More stars in terms of entertainment value (guilty pleasure entertainment)- but this guy is so self important- even though he references this, it doesn't make up for it. i did like reading about trannies more than i thought. i also didnt know lenny kravitz was into celibacy. but this Jonathan character needs to get a life, it's depressing. i liked Bored to Death.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could make a comment about "The Double Life" being only half satisfying, but I'm sure it's been done before. Many times.
I really enjoyed the first "Journalism" section, but few of the others. This is mostly a collection of filler, like stray bits to reach a page count. I do admire Ames for being able to secure a book contract with so much random, lackluster material.
love it. really good, fun, interesting, picture of ny and Ames's neuroses. 4 stars because there are enough stories/essays in there that were only published because they were written by so-witty-messed-up-and-famous Jonathan Ames. And voyeuristic sections of your diary as you tour Europe as a teenager? Those are only interesting for so long.
Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ames is more odd than funny. I like him as a writer of sexuality. Instead of writing about the misadventures of his (or his characters') limp dick(s), his topics are on cunnilingus, a male friend's fake vagina, his sad blown chance to deflower TWO European teens, and more such topics in the broader spectrum of sex.
Sara Gray
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pithy, sexy, funny, sad, and human, there were lots of great bits scattered throughout this eclectic collection. I'm a growing fan of Ames' short stories, and his journalistic pieces are great. I could have done without the reprints of his old diaries, but still, there was a lot to like here, and I'm definitely going to check out 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 about Jonathan Ames...