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Wake Up, Sir!

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,737 ratings  ·  380 reviews
From the creator of the HBO series Bored to Death, the story of a young alcoholic writer and his personal valet, a hilarious homage to the Bertie and Jeeves novels of P.G. Wodehouse.

Alan Blair, the hero of Wake Up, Sir!, is a young, loony writer with numerous problems of the mental, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and physical variety. He's very good at problems. But luckily
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 12th 2005 by Scribner (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,737 ratings  ·  380 reviews


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Paul E. Morph
This is the third Jonathan Ames book I've read this year (the others being 'The Extra Man' and 'What's Not To Love') and reading them in such close succession was probably a mistake. The reason it was probably a mistake is because there is an incredible amount of similar (and even virtually identical) material in all three books. Reading them so close to one another is a rather repetitive experience.

It's a shame, really, as reading just one of them is a delight... any one of them, really. They a
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Kristopher Jansma
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookblog
I saw Jonathan Ames do a reading about a year ago at the KGB Bar and left with the urge to find his short story collection and gobble it up. He's witty and sex-obsessesed in a nervous sort of way, yet somehow manages to come off as more F. Scott Fitzgerald than Woody Allen. His essay, "American Gothic," about interviewing Goths at a music festival was particularly wonderful, and I used it in one of my classes this past semester. To make a long story short, I recently began watching reruns of the ...more
Tosh
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I think Ames maybe my most favorite living writer at the moment - well along with Dennis Cooper - and you can't compare both authors so forget that route.

But nevertheless Ames has a love for PG Wodehouse or Gentlemen British literature - and when you mixed that up with a slight Woody Allen New Jersey/Manhattan mixture it's makes a great cocktail.

In a nutshell it is about a struggling author with a drink problem who goes to a writer's retreat and one gets the feeling this is his last chance. But
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Fiona MacDonald
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Strange, weird, funny, sad, black, dark, hilarious. These are some of the words I would use to describe this book. It's unlike anything else I have ever read. It's like an original parody, so so peculiar, but I really enjoyed it, and although it's been compared to Jeeves and Wooster there is a lot more to it than that. I would say taking an in depth look into Wooster's psyche with some rather bleak, poignant and side splitting moments would be more like it. Well worth a read. I can't stop thinki ...more
Richard Kramer
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan Ames is a total fucking treasure. I liked this even more than THE EXTRA MAN, which is saying something, as I loved that. In this book he channels both the surface of PG Wodehouse and the undercurrent as well, the melancholy beneath the amusing compounding scrapes the hero is always getting into, to be saved ultimately and always by Jeeves, who in Ames might or might not be real, and whose incarnation in WAKE UP, SIR! makes you look back at the Wodehouse books and wonder if he was imagin ...more
Stephen Goldenberg
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Being a big Wodehouse fan, I was intrigued by the book's premise but also wary. The first thing to say is that, although obviously intended as a homage to Wodehouse, the use of the relationship between the ditzy alcoholic Jewish writer and his valet who just happens to be called Jeeves (although he also acts and speaks like the original) is somewhat superfluous to the rest of the novel. Jeeves plays little or no part in the plot other than being a sounding-board for the haphazardly quirky ideas ...more
Danger
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've never been so entertained by reading a book in which almost nothing happens.
Jim
Nov 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ames Fans, Biting-Edge Humorists
Shelves: humor
This was my first Jonathan Ames novel. My expectations where high as I had thoroughly enjoyed his short story and journalism collection. Throughout the book there are hysterical dialogues and interplays between the main character Alain, and the people be it his rich Aunt and Uncle, his Butler Jeeves, and the people that he encounters along the way to the Writer's Colony. Incidentally Jonathon Ames was the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship award. The first quarter of the book was very tight ...more
Chris
Dec 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
When I started reading I was prepared to be extremely disappointed. A sheer rip-off of the Jeeves novels. It got better, but I wasn't entirely impressed. There were humorous moments but nothing that would make me want to read anything of Mr. Ames' again.
Mr. Ames does have fun with the main character going off on tangents but it can be a blessing or a curse depending on the subject's appeal to the reader. The most memorable and fun scene is where three drunk and high characters decide they are on
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Kirstie
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I mean, I really don't think I even need to read any more Jonathan Ames novels because there is so much overlap between them and the show I love, Bored to Death. This one is kind of a wild ride between Ames fleeing family then a crazy fight, then a disaster at an artist colony. I don't know how much of it is fact but Ames writes as if every single word were a page from his every accumulating diary that he's revealing for the sake of your own pleasure. In some ways, though it's way more personal, ...more
James
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comedy, fiction
A youngish man child with an alcohol problem and a knack for poor decisions sets of on a road trip with his valet, in an attempt to address his writers block. Of course the valet is called Jeeves. I loved the idea for the book, and the author fully exploits the absurdity of updating Wodehouse into the modern age, and in doing so highlights an almost sinister insanity in the original Wooster.

The problem for much of the book is that it casts you into an uncanny valley where the similarity to the
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Steven
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I was initially attracted to this book by the lovely new Pushkin Press edition and the fact it was written by Jonathan Ames - creator of the TV series "Bored to Death" and, just like that criminally underrated show, I was drawn in by the subtle humour and a pleasing amount of incisive and clever one-liners about sex, life, and big noses.

The main character, Alan Blair, is a wonderfully neurotic alcoholic writer who takes a trip to an artist's colony with his reliably terse manservant, Jeeves. Th
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Jacob
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people without a lot of sexual hangups, people who've been around artists and intellectuals a lot
Starts at one place, in one way and ends up somewhere else entirely, in a similar but warped way. Jonathan Ames is an understated genius who makes his neuroses hilarious and weirdness fun. Wake Up has an overall lightness to it, but also contains moments of strange profundity and even most of its humor is cerebral. Ames finds a way to engage you and probe your own weirdness and often be glad his protagonist's is not your own.
Gina
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I expected more hilarity. Maybe I just didn't get it! I'll try another Ames at a later date, perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind this go. I didn't hate it, there were a few points in which I chuckled, but overall it didn't live up to my expectations.
Gretchen
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
while this book wasn't bad, I don't really need to read another book by a boy about a boy having boy problems, you know?
Elliot Chalom
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Took a while to get into, but eventually picked up and became funny and at times insightful. Over 300 pages to get to the line "corn on the macabre," but what a delicious line. Good overall read.
Patricia
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best time I ever had reading a book. Laughed hard and often. I will be reading more of Ames in the future.
patty ramona
Entertainingly wacky.
Aspry  Jones
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lurking deep within the claustrophobic, meticulously alphabetic shelving of libraries the world over, are the answers to universal secrets. Divine gifts like Amazon.com, Borders, Barnes and Noble, not to mention the Mom and Pop labors of love just parked around the corner, provide us with the most startling wealths of knowledge, entertainment, or just sidenotes of fulfilling satisfaction. Most people go their whole lives reading the creative writings of others, yet never finding that one piece o ...more
Robert
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my first Jonathan Ames book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I expected it to be a direct homage to P.G. Wodehouse (like "Jeeves and the Wedding Bells", which I've read previously and enjoyed), and so I was slightly disappointed at first when the book was not that. It's like a dark, introspective, and insightful novel wearing a Wodehouse mask.

The protagonist's struggles, insecurities, and strange internal monologues are perverse but relatable. Ames does a fantastic job mimicking the larger
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Brian
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is one very unique novel that is for certain! It is also very clever and quite an original take on an overused premise. This is the first work of Jonathan Ames that I have read, and I will pick up some others soon enough.
As many reviews here have noted, "Wake Up, Sir!" is a very funny book. It most definitely is that, and I got a good chuckle or smile from almost every page. The humor in this text is wide ranging, from the broadly comical and slapstick, to the witty nuances of Oscar Wilde -
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Alex Sarll
An alcoholic, self-absorbed Jewish writer gets into various scrapes, many sexual in character, as he heads off for a stay at an artists' colony; this is pretty much the type specimen plot for an American novel set in the late 20th century. Except that here our narrator has recently taken on a valet named Jeeves...

It's obvious almost from the off that - like so many characters nowadays - Jeeves is more than likely the protagonist's hallucination (though we are at least spared the scene where thi
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Alexa
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
I appear to be starting a new trend in my life where I get around fifteen pages into a book, decide that I hate it, and put it down forever. A year ago, I'd only done that twice in my life. I can't even begin to tell you how many books I've put down since then.

I was very excited about reading Wake Up, Sir! when I first bought it (it was the description of the woman's nose that made me want to read it. I'm really big on noses and happen to think that mine is the best. Ever). I started reading it
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David Mclaughlin
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fanatastically funny story. The protagonist of this novel is Alan Blair: a neurotic, alcoholic, struggling author who lurches from one mishap to the next and is kept in check only by his faithful butler, Jeeves. As characteristic of Ames' other work, this novel is packed with hilarious laugh out moments. Even when we find our hero ruminating on or acting upon the most depraved topics and fetishes, it is done with such earnestness and, in a way, sweetness that they seem almost entirely normal a ...more
Kara
Apr 26, 2010 rated it liked it
I really like Ames a lot yet felt like I didn't "get" this book. I've read all his nonfiction short stories and think he's a hoot; a appreciate his lack of apology toward his perversions and his frankness is funny. He gets himself into situations and then just digs in deeper, and his protagonist does the same in this fiction book. The book starts off slow to the point that it's actually a little exciting that the main character turns out to be an alcoholic, just to add a little drama to the proc ...more
Saima Nisbet
The front cover has the word "hilarious" in uppercase letters repeated five times from five different reviews. Maybe a mistake at the publisher? Around 270 pages in, I've gotten so sick of the silly character and feeling like I'm in the 1920s when it's set in 1995 that I've skimmed a few paragraphs. Some of his ramblings have been interesting but nothing has been hilarious. Is the valet even real? He has no substance so I think not or perhaps he is as servants aren't to be "seen"?Then in the las ...more
katenka
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ridiculously funny!!!!
Frankly speaking, it's a bit difficult to get into the story at the beginning and the plot seems to be lacking in consistency but it changes when you get over the first 80 pages. Anyway, the book is so funny and clever, you simply cannot stop laughing out loud as you read it. Spontaneous uncontrollable laughter. Somehow Alan reminded me of Adrian Mole but with a different background.
The verdict: absolutely worth reading! The book's really very good.
Beth
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, loser-lit
This is quite possibly the funniest book I've ever read. The drunken narrator escapes his aunt and uncle's plans for rehab and, with his unflappable valet Jeeves, joins an artist's colony in Saratoga Springs. If you like Wodehouse (and don't mind an alcoholic narrator), you will like this 21st century Jeeves-and-Wooster.
Lorri Steinbacher
Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Did not like it as much as The Extra Man, probably because that whole schtick gets tired fast. The whole valet thing struck me as a little dumb, not funny (ha-ha or weird). The premise fell flat for me. Still, it is Jonathan Ames, and I did still laugh.
Leslie
Aug 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
A dead-on modern take on Wodehouse, if Bertie had a little drug problem.
Weird and laugh-out-loud funny.
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Jeeves! (Spoilers surely lie ahead) 2 29 Feb 19, 2011 07:25PM  

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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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“Oh, God, I don't know what's more difficult, life or the English language.” 14 likes
“I was aware that I was acting atrociously but I couldn't stop myself. Rarely had I behaved in such a manner. But I guess when we're feeling lonely in life, we attack those who actually do love us. It's one of the things that characterizes human nature and can be summed up in one word: FLAWED.” 12 likes
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