The author: Called "New York's gonzo scribe," Ames has written the novels Wake Up, Sir! and The Extra Man -- which will be released as a feature film in 2010 -- as well as the graphic novel The Alcoholic and the essay collection My Less Than Secret Life. An English major at Princeton, he is a former columnist for the New York Press, performs as a storyteller, and has been a frequent guest on The Late Show with David Letterman.
The book: This collection of humorous and erotically charged articles, essays, cartoons, and short stories features the story "Bored to Death," the basis for the HBO comedy series Ames created by the same name about a 30-something struggling writer in Brooklyn who moonlights as a private detective. Written in the first person, the pieces in this collection range from Ames' coverage of the U.S. Open and a Goth music festival, to a profile of Marilyn Manson, and his account of attending a class on how to pleasure women.
Opening lines: (For the short story "Bored to Death") "The trouble happened because I was bored. At the time, I was twenty-eight days sober. I was spending my nights playing Internet backgammon. I should have been going to AA meetings, but I wasn't. I had been going to AA meetings for twenty years, ever since college. I like AA meetings. My problem is that I'm a periodic alcoholic, even with going to AA. Every few years, I try drinking again. Or, rather, drinking tries me. It tries me on for size and finds out I don't fit and throws me to the ground. And so I go crawling back to AA. Or at least I should. This last go-round, I was skipping meetings and just staying home and, like I said, playing Internet backgammon."
Reviews: Publishers Weekly wrote, "The doggedly functional outer persona surrounding the neurotic inner core comes through in this sparkling if scattershot collection from New York's gonzo scribe." And Booklist called it "hilarious, often harrowing." By Katherine Federici Greenwood
(Photo by Travis RoozÃ©e)