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The Extra Man

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,479 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
Meet Louis Ives: well-groomed, romantic, and as captivating as an F. Scott Fitzgerald hero. Only this hero has a penchant for ladies clothes, and he's lost his teaching post at Princeton's Pretty Brook Day School after an unfortunate incident involving a colleague's brassiere.

Meet Henry Harrison: former actor, failed but brilliant playwright, and a well-seasoned escort for

Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Scribner (first published August 1st 1998)
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Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it did not like it
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.
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Dan Trudeau
Oct 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Mar 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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!"
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an off, engaging, sad, funny book. Ames seems to excel at characters that are somehow endearing and unlikeable, if that's even a thing. The struggles of the narrator, Louis Ives, with his sexual explorations is especially interesting to read now, when transsexualism is as accepted as it's ever been (though we still have so, so far to go). And Henry Harrison, with his arch conservative views and his admiration of Russia. Donald Trump even makes a cameo, trying to insert himself into the high ...more
Tom Slater
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was searching for a novel for my month's recommendation for our reading group and came across The Extra Man. What a delight! What wonderful unforgettable characters! I'm usually a slow reader but I couldn't put this book curious glances at the coffee shop where I usually read mornings, but not usually laughing and chuckling as I read. I can't wait for others in the group to read this novel. We are due for a fun read...with plenty of offbeat details to discuss and possibly identify w ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Read "Wake Up, Sir" and was excited to read "The Extra Man". However, I was disappointed. The writing was good -- can't fault Ames -- but nothing else was enjoyable about the story other than the antics of the character Henry Harrison. Even the narrator, whom I'm sure is modeled after Ames himself, seemed to be stuck in repetitive behavior, learning nothing and never growing or changing.

And why wouldn't Mary have said something to Louis about her missing bra? It was a tense and revealing part of
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a hilarious story of two men who are the epitome of "eccentric" yet find each other in the big city. It's an insightful journey into the lives of men who don't fit into the binary that we typically try to fit people into -- male/female, gay/straight, rich/poor.
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Dec 09, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aspry  Jones
May 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
May 25, 2016 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
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sabra Embury
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 14, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Writer's Relief
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
In THE EXTRA MAN, Louis, a young, twenty-something writer, rents a room from a older gentleman named Henry--and ends up in the quirkiest of friendships. Louis struggles to find himself with regard to women and his sexuality, and wants so much to have open conversations with Henry. Henry, however, tells Louis that if they keep things private, their live-in relationship will run more smoothly.

Honestly, if you’re looking for a book that has a lot of action, you might be disappointed. THE EXTRA MAN
Apr 28, 2012 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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“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.” 6 likes
“I'm on the verge of a total breakdown. Sciatica. Taxes. Cars. Fleas, possibly. It's an absurd existence.” 4 likes
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