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My Less Than Secret Life is the companion volume to Jonathan Ames's first memoirish endeavor, "the mildly perverted and wildly amusing" (Vanity Fair) What's Not to Love? This collection of the cult author's fiction and essays includes Ames's public diary, the bi-weekly columns he penned for the New York Press. The entries of this diary are a record of his mad adventures: h My Less Than Secret Life is the companion volume to Jonathan Ames's first memoirish endeavor, "the mildly perverted and wildly amusing" (Vanity Fair) What's Not to Love? This collection of the cult author's fiction and essays includes Ames's public diary, the bi-weekly columns he penned for the New York Press. The entries of this diary are a record of his mad adventures: his ill-fated debut as an amateur boxer fighting as ‘The Herring Wonder', a faltering liaison with a Cuban prostitute, his public outing of George Plimpton as a Jew, his discussion with Eve Ensler about his dear friend The Mangina, a renegade mission as a Jew into the heart of Waspy Maine, and other such harrowing escapades. Whether trying to round up a partner for an orgy, politely assisting in an animal sacrifice, or scamming tickets to the WWF's Royal Rumble for his son, Jonathan Ames proves himself a ballsier Everyman whose transgressions and compassionate meditations will satisfy the voyeur and encourage the halfhearted. But be warned. As Jonathan says, "I don't like to be a bad influence. It's bad enough that I have influence over myself." "...Ames has always been one of my favorite contemporary writers ... for his ... fearless commitment to the most demanding psychosexual comedies."—Rick Moody


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My Less Than Secret Life is the companion volume to Jonathan Ames's first memoirish endeavor, "the mildly perverted and wildly amusing" (Vanity Fair) What's Not to Love? This collection of the cult author's fiction and essays includes Ames's public diary, the bi-weekly columns he penned for the New York Press. The entries of this diary are a record of his mad adventures: h My Less Than Secret Life is the companion volume to Jonathan Ames's first memoirish endeavor, "the mildly perverted and wildly amusing" (Vanity Fair) What's Not to Love? This collection of the cult author's fiction and essays includes Ames's public diary, the bi-weekly columns he penned for the New York Press. The entries of this diary are a record of his mad adventures: his ill-fated debut as an amateur boxer fighting as ‘The Herring Wonder', a faltering liaison with a Cuban prostitute, his public outing of George Plimpton as a Jew, his discussion with Eve Ensler about his dear friend The Mangina, a renegade mission as a Jew into the heart of Waspy Maine, and other such harrowing escapades. Whether trying to round up a partner for an orgy, politely assisting in an animal sacrifice, or scamming tickets to the WWF's Royal Rumble for his son, Jonathan Ames proves himself a ballsier Everyman whose transgressions and compassionate meditations will satisfy the voyeur and encourage the halfhearted. But be warned. As Jonathan says, "I don't like to be a bad influence. It's bad enough that I have influence over myself." "...Ames has always been one of my favorite contemporary writers ... for his ... fearless commitment to the most demanding psychosexual comedies."—Rick Moody

30 review for My Less Than Secret Life: A Diary, Fiction, Essays

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    Ames’ best and worst quality is his honesty. His absolute, brutal, not-afraid-to-embarrass-himself honesty. He vocalizes thoughts that most of us keep private, which probably should be kept private. While some may look at his many adventures with transvestites/transsexuals and his stories about pooping and nose picking and masturbation as being somewhat vulgar and unnecessary, at least you can say that he is not full of shit. He is far too open to be considered shady or dishonest. And for me, at Ames’ best and worst quality is his honesty. His absolute, brutal, not-afraid-to-embarrass-himself honesty. He vocalizes thoughts that most of us keep private, which probably should be kept private. While some may look at his many adventures with transvestites/transsexuals and his stories about pooping and nose picking and masturbation as being somewhat vulgar and unnecessary, at least you can say that he is not full of shit. He is far too open to be considered shady or dishonest. And for me, at least, this works. My Less than Secret Life is a compilation of much of his late ‘90s/early 2000’s work. It’s a hodgepodge of essays, short stories, letters, what have you, that serve as a very complete (some might think overly complete) picture of the author as a middle aged man. As with any such compilation, some of it works and some of it doesn’t. I believe the two strongest pieces are the one about how two chapters of his novel were stolen in an elaborate plot by a misguided friend, and the one about visiting a porno movie set with his father. Both stories are riveting, wickedly funny accounts of things that just don’t happen to most people. In fact, these things and many other things he writes about, including his training for and participating in a boxing match with a stage performer, just don’t happen to anyone. Yet these things happen to Ames on a regular basis. And for the most part, he welcomes the adventure. Because as a true creative non-fiction writer, in the tradition of Hunter Thompson and Hemingway, Ames throws himself into the story, to hilarious effect. I loved most everything about this book: I can’t even count the number of times I laughed out loud at something I’d read. This is a great lead-in to Ames’ fiction (read The Extra Man!), which, as this book shows, isn’t very far from the truth. #JonathanAmes

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael W.

    This is a very funny collection of essays, some 'fiction' and a diary from author, variety show host, raconteur and sometimes boxer,Jonathan Ames. I say 'fiction' because often Ames' fiction is very similar to his hilarious, sometimes touching, sometimes disturbing, but always funny and entertaining, real life experiences; just with the names changed. I've been a fan of Jonathan Ames for about five years, since I first discovered him as a guest on David Letterman. I've attended a few of his readi This is a very funny collection of essays, some 'fiction' and a diary from author, variety show host, raconteur and sometimes boxer,Jonathan Ames. I say 'fiction' because often Ames' fiction is very similar to his hilarious, sometimes touching, sometimes disturbing, but always funny and entertaining, real life experiences; just with the names changed. I've been a fan of Jonathan Ames for about five years, since I first discovered him as a guest on David Letterman. I've attended a few of his readings, a few of his 'variety shows' hosted at Mo Pitkins House of Satisfaction in New York and, recently, his second official boxing match held at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn. This was the first of about 6 of his books that I've over the years and would recommend all of them - and have often whenever I'm having a conversation with someone about books.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Completely depraved. Just as I like them. I really wish Ames would write more.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    I read this after I had read "Wake Up, Sir!" It is a compendium of previously published essays, some non-fiction accounts of the madcap adventures of the author, and some fiction or diary entries. It is often very, very funny. It mainly features a lot of private phobias and hangups that Ames has in the areas of self control and sexuality...still, there are many very heartfelt pieces about caring for loved ones, suicide attempts by dogs, a great piece on a literary hoax from a jealous admirer, et I read this after I had read "Wake Up, Sir!" It is a compendium of previously published essays, some non-fiction accounts of the madcap adventures of the author, and some fiction or diary entries. It is often very, very funny. It mainly features a lot of private phobias and hangups that Ames has in the areas of self control and sexuality...still, there are many very heartfelt pieces about caring for loved ones, suicide attempts by dogs, a great piece on a literary hoax from a jealous admirer, etc. You can see how he developed characters for his HBO show and for the aforementioned novel as well, since you read about his attempt at amateur boxing and other wacky schemes. Many of the essays are more than ten years old at this point, published during the burgeoning heyday of the Internet age, and this dates a few of them, but overall they are still very funny. Much of it is universal, and feelings that many of us may have had about experiences waking up with someone, using the bathroom, mythologizing our lives (as he does in Havana, referring to himself as the Jewish Graham Greene, Greenberg), or just observing mundane tragedy and human pain (taking an elderly aunt to the doctor in Queens, observing a man die and seeing businesses nearby barely pause). I liked it, but for me, I'd read what I know of his novels before this...Although if you're an essay person, this might be more your speed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    My second foray into Ames' unique brand of psychotherapy, the bookjacket entices/warns: "Do you often wonder what the hell you're doing with your life? Do you feel separate from most people, like you don't belong anywhere? Do you black out when you drink alcohol? Do you worry that no one will ever love you because you're a bit freakish?" The list goes on. In truth, Ames does confront all of these issues and more with his patented self-deprecating introspection. What results is something raw and My second foray into Ames' unique brand of psychotherapy, the bookjacket entices/warns: "Do you often wonder what the hell you're doing with your life? Do you feel separate from most people, like you don't belong anywhere? Do you black out when you drink alcohol? Do you worry that no one will ever love you because you're a bit freakish?" The list goes on. In truth, Ames does confront all of these issues and more with his patented self-deprecating introspection. What results is something raw and visceral, sometimes shocking and occasionally enlightened. This collection is a strange mixture of autobiographical biweekly columns from the New York Press, short fiction, and several essays. While not as refined as his later fiction (see "Wake Up, Sir!") there are a multitude of examples herein where Ames puts forth his best, one just has to be patient enough to seek them out. "So that milk was several weeks old, like everything else in my refrigerator. But did I throw it away? No. I'll probably sniff it again in two weeks' time, just to torment myself. I have two personalities. Two idiots. The one who sniffs the milk and doesn't throw it away, and the one who sniffs the milk two weeks later."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Wiggins

    Way back when I was attending Columbia for fiction writing, I struggled with this exact topic. How do you write a hilarious biting memoir and make sure your parents and friends will still speak to you after it's been published? Where is the line between fact and fiction, and can you be sued for crossing the line? But Ames is so funny that I don't really care. I appreciate his admission, though, that slight fame caused a shift in his 'real' life. Sedaris and the other heavyweights never seem to a Way back when I was attending Columbia for fiction writing, I struggled with this exact topic. How do you write a hilarious biting memoir and make sure your parents and friends will still speak to you after it's been published? Where is the line between fact and fiction, and can you be sued for crossing the line? But Ames is so funny that I don't really care. I appreciate his admission, though, that slight fame caused a shift in his 'real' life. Sedaris and the other heavyweights never seem to acknowledge the fact that they are no longer anonymous male pseudo deadbeats but instead celebrities. Readalikes: Titles by David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Jonathan Ames

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    I love Ames writing. He marches to his own drummer and lives by his own rules. He should be received along side those who appreciate Seadaris and Borroughs. Only problem for me with these types of essay books is that after 150 pages it begins to sound like the party guest that just won't shut up. Nagging and monotone and non stop. It's a book that I will pick up and read from time to time but have trouble trying to digest as a whole.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Ryan

    I have never read and of Jonathan Ames previous work and I feel like if I had it may have helped. The book was a bit of a hodgepodge of stories/articles he had written, so most of the stuff has been seen before. I felt that some of the essays/articles I enjoyed, but some were a little dull and were difficult to get through. I do like short the most of the 'chapters' were and made it easy for short reading when I was on the train.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin Beck

    Unnecessary - I didn't learn anything or grow in any way while reading this book. I dont read for the beautiful prose that I know a lot of people do - I read for the emotions the story allows me to feel that I wouldn't normally - or to teach me a new way of looking at something. This book did nothing for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    If you like reading another person's inner-most thoughts and desires and enjoy a writer who can make you laugh and like sex, then you're going to enjoy Jonathan Ames. I'm not even 100 pages in and I want to read more from him. Okay, I finished it, and it's very good. It's blogging before blogging became blogging. In other words, a diary. Very personal and insightful on the human condition.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Is there anything as terrible as racing through a truly hilarious book? With eyes and fingers on the metaphorical gas pedal, the only speed bumps are the tears of laughter and/or the arousal. So keep Kleenex handy and try to make it last as long as possible. Put that on your book jacket flaps, Ames!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liesbeth Wieggers

    Advised by a friend. And she was right. Read the whole book in one Sunday. The book consists of short stories in which Ames describes his life in painful, funny, freaky experiences. But he writes it tenderly; as one critic says: "... he renders the perverse sweet, the tormenting tender, and spins his most horrific escapades into pure, hysterical, weirdly uplifting comic gold..."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Hilarious. Not all of the essays are successful, but that's only because Ames is willing to gamble every time, going out on a comic/memoir limb that he then saws out from under him. Gosh, but I love this guy's stuff.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zoom

    A little disjointed, all over the map, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. Great for voyeurs, since he likes to expose himself. Because it's an eclectic collection of writings, it's easy enough to get back on track whenever you're lost.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Meghan McFadden

    I enjoyed the memoir portion more than the short story portion. It seemed like all the short stories were thinly veiled true stories. Interesting guy, weird life, fun read... at least the first half.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Wiseheart

    pervy fun...who doesn't love that?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    Hilarious. He writes unabashedly about such incredibly personal things and bizarre neuroses. Entertaining and makes you feel slightly less weird.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joan Menzer

    Another great book by Jonathan Ames - absolutely sick!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    Hilariously honest! Reading Ames one realizes how much embarassing stuff most personal essayists must be leaving out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    good easy bedtime reading...cept it keeps you up until 3am. not as easy as he makes it look.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sam "The Record Man"

    More of Ames' tell tale wit and shameless recounting of his perverse adventures through the late night subcultures of New York city.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia

    Laughed out loud at some of these essays.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    dirty minds think alike... yikes! :)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    loved every second of it, had a hard time putting it down.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Really enjoyed the essays, especially "Bice". Not as crazy about the fiction, but liked the whole thing well enough to look for more Ames.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Albert

    funny, but a lot of the same. Got old after the first few stories.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    hilarious, somewhat filthy, and sad. I bought and read this in 2005 and just re-read it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mad

    Neil and I are massive Bored to Death fans and he bought me this book of Ames essays as a birthday present. It's totally brilliant, very funny. Giving it three stars for now, until I finish it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jordyn B

    I bought this book at a yard sale for a quarter and honestly, I want my quarter back.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Craigtator

    Visualize David Sedaris crossed with Philip Roth, 1/8th sized.

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