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Brooklyn-centric weekly website and newsletter This Week In NY reviews

A literary Miscellany from the Berg

Raconteur Jonathan Ames, author of such offbeat novels as THE EXTRA MAN
and WAKE UP, SIR!, winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an occasional
boxer, has collaborated with artist extraordinaire and FOT (friend of
twi-ny) Dean Haspiel on THE ALCOHOLIC, a harrowing and humorous look at
Ames's battle with the bottle as he tries to make a life for himself in
New York City. The graphic novel opens in August 2001, with Ames
wondering how he ended up in the front seat of a station wagon cluttered
with cats and suitcases, about to have sex with a tiny old lady with
ragged teeth. He then goes back to 1979, focusing on important
life-changing events that led him to such a strange and awful fate,
including getting drunk for the first time when he was fifteen; having
to bury his parents after a tragic car accident; sharing an oddly close
relationship with his great-aunt, Sadie; checking himself into rehab;
losing his hair; and falling in love with a younger fan who keeps moving
from city to city. But it is his dysfunctional and heartbreaking
relationship with his childhood friend, Sal, that gives the book its
emotional center and dominates Ames's thoughts and actions as he spirals
downward toward that station wagon. Haspiel (the creator of Billy Dogma
and OPPOSABLE THUMBS and the illustrator of Harvey Pekar's THE QUITTER)
enhances Ames's tale with black-and-white drawings that don't merely
depict the text but get inside Ames's head, poignantly capturing the raw
energy of the story. In THE ALCOHOLIC, Ames doesn't get bogged down in
trite confessionals that can often mar such deeply personal works and
wisely lets all the sex, booze, vomit, and impending baldness be mere
sidebars to what is really ailing him.

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