Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jonathan Ames's Double Life

 I don't know what's wrong with you people.

I ordered Jonathan Ames's The Double Life is Twice as Good [1] for the library, and when I saw it in the new book room, I put it on one of our display cubes.  It was on the top, face out, greeting you each time you went past to go to the coffee shop or use the Race Street entrance or whatever you were doing down there.  It must have been distracting, what you were doing, because you didn't notice this book.

I know I ordered it late--I don't know how I missed it.  I'll take a mulligan.  But it was sitting up there, proudly on display for some time before I took pity on it and checked it out myself.

The double life of the title refers the book's collection of previously published fiction and nonfiction short pieces.  Ames, who should appeal to fans of Chuck Klosterman [2], writes with humor and self-deprecation on topics ranging from the US Open to Marilyn Manson, from Corduroy to sex--at least as far as his nonfiction pieces are concerned.  I haven't gotten to the fiction section yet.  That's right, I'm not done with it, so you can't have it yet.  You should have grabbed it while it sat miserably unwanted on display.

The first piece in the collection, cleverly not put into either the fiction or nonfiction sections, is a fictional story Ames writes about himself called Bored to Death.  It's the basis for the HBO series of the same name [3].  Bored one day taking a break from his obsessive internet backgammon playing, Ames posts an ad on Craigslist selling his services as an unlicensed private detective.  Weeks later, playing internet backgammon, he receives a call from a young woman wanting to find her missing sister, and despite his lack of experience, he takes the case.  It's a good story, inspired by Chandler, Hammett, and Goodis, that serves well as an homage.  The HBO series just came in on hold for me today, and I'm looking forward to checking it out.

1. Request The Double Life Is Twice as Good--don't pass it up and let me down again.

2. Chuck Klosterman popped into my head a few times while reading Ames's book--I was mostly reminded of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto, which makes sense as I was reading a collection of articles on largely pop culture topics.  See all we own by Chuck Klosterman.  Might as well see all we own by Jonathan Ames, too.

3.  Learn more about Bored to Death on IMDb, or request it be held for you when it's available.

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