by Whitney Matheson
Read this book: 'The Alcoholic'
Last weekend I had lunch at the American Art Museum and started reading The Alcoholic, the new graphic novel from writer Jonathan Ames and artist Dean Haspiel. I ended up glued to my seat, because I literally couldn't put down this tale of an alcoholic writer who tries to redeem himself after years of hilarious, blurry, drunken mishaps.
The main character in The Alcoholic is "Jonathan A.," and the story begins with his introduction to drinking in high school. It continues through college and young adulthood -- parts reminded me of Augusten Burroughs' Dry, though sexier and more surreal -- and it winds through Jonathan's transformative Sept. 11 experience to the present day.
The cover of this book alone is bound to attract attention at the bookstore, considering it includes raves from Sarah Silverman, Bret Easton Ellis, Brian K. Vaughan and John Hodgman. If you just start reading the first few pages, you'll be sucked in by Ames' swift and darkly funny writing style and Haspiel's art, which I've enjoyed in so many comics, including Harvey Pekar's The Quitter and the artist's own Street Code.
The Alcoholic arrives in stores today. Here's an entertaining piece the Village Voice did about Ames, a New Yorker who "has a personal rogue's gallery of performer friends worthy of Andy Warhol." Back in May, Publishers Weekly ran a good article about the book that asks Ames how much of his own life he injected into the tale.