Meet Henry Harrison: former actor, failed but brilliant playwright, and a well-seasoned escort for New York City's women of means. He dances alone to Ethel Merman records, second-acts operas, and performs his scrappy life with the dignity befitting a self-styled man of the world. What can this ageless Don Quixote of the Upper East Side have to offer a young gentleman such as Louis? What, indeed.
Well, the answer lies somewhere between the needs of an irascible mentor and the education of his eager apprentice, between cocktails on the Upper East Side and an even more intoxicating treat along the secret fringes of Times Square, and between friendship and longing.
"A miracle....This novel is not to be missed." (Booklist)
"A sure-footed exploration of sexual confusion and a loopily elegant, surprisingly moving urban comedy of manners." (The New York Times Book Review)
"By updating the moral education of a young gentleman, Ames has written a Bildungsroman for the end of our century." (The Washington Post)
"Ames has the one thing Fitzgerald lacked: a sense of humor...The Extra Man wins us over with its sheer energy and good will, its confidence in the ability of its own humor and intelligence to widen our ideas about the possibilities of love, and about the permissible range of inner and outer lives to which today's young gentleman may properly aspire. (The New York Observer)
Ce que les auditeurs disent de The Extra Man
Though this charming novel boasts many elements that typical readers might not normally find endearing--drag queens, a WASPY-Jewish fancier of outmoded gentlemanly ideals, a filthy New York apartment--"The Extra Man" is an undiscovered modern classic. Ames writes about taboo topics with a mixture of panache and vulnerability to utterly charming results. Henry Harrison, the aged/ageless man-about-town and centerpiece of the novel, is one of the most memorable and endearing characters I've encountered in a work of fiction in years, and Ames' excellent reading of the Harrison part only adds to the appeal of this recording. One warning: while Ames writes about perversions with delicacy and care, this book is not for prudes.
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- Delaney Faulk
The Reader Ruins It
Would you try another book from Jonathan Ames and/or Jonathan Ames?
Jonathan Ames read his book and is a terrible, terribly slow narrator who got on my nerves right away. I might try another if he didn't read it.
Would you recommend The Extra Man to your friends? Why or why not?
No - for reasons stated. Ames wrecks his own book.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
H e r e a d s r e a l l y s l o w l y
Any additional comments?
Please let Ames know that he has talent as a writer -- not as a reader
Why was this book written?
There is no plot and no development. There was not a single element that captivated me. There a numerous better books covering controversial issues and contemporary society.
And the slightly bored narration tested my patience. I finished it but was relieved when it was over.
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This time I really disagree with the critics. I disliked this book. After waiting for a plot, I had invested so much time listening, I finished it but recommend against it. In my opinion the book is humorless. This is the first talking book I've ever disliked and I've listened to a lot of them.
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- Amazon Priestess
Not for most Americans
Not as funny as Sedaris. Not as original as Roth. Not as disturbing as K. Dunn (Geek Love). Overall, however, an entertaining diversion from post 9/11 provincialism.
I had seen reviews that compared this book to F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing. Not even close. The frequent gay sex scenes perhaps may be titillating for gay readers, but I suspect most straight males will find them merely boring, as I did. Hardly a classic -- suggest readers looking for well written recent "coming of age" novels to seek out Nick Hornby instead. It also didn't help that the author read the book instead of a professional reader -- always a danger sign.
I usually like novels that are not afraid to be edgy, but this one never engaged me.