Sarah Vowell author of The Partly Cloudy Patriot Very funny and altogether elegant, this tale of an endearing drunk and his unflappable manservant is a love story of sorts, but with an American twist. Here, a valet is just a friend one pays.
A. M. Homes author of Music for Torching Wake Up, Sir! takes on the big themes the homosexual question, the Jewish question, the great American novel question, and more in this witty, wild romp about a somewhat disturbed young writer. Comic and incredibly accurate: if anyone ever wanted to know what a writer has to endure in order to produce, Jonathan Ames has made it perfectly clear. Wake Up, Sir! is bound to delight.
Colson Whitehead author of John Henry Days A hilarious journey into one man's labyrinthine neuroses, with day trips to compulsion and delusion. The perfect gift for anyone who has ever imagined having a manservant.
In the same way that ''The Sopranos'' and the ''Analyze This'' movies mine the humor found at the intersection of the talking cure and tough-guy omerta, Ames's book pits the self-lacerating gush of alcoholism-in-transition against the cool detachment of the English hospitality industry; Wake Up, Sir! is a Wodehouse novel for the recovery era.
The New York Times
… Ames can produce a pretty good facsimile of Wodehousean badinage, some of it sharpened to a 21st-century edge. You'll find plenty more such quipping in the book, along with graphic sex, ludicrous mishaps and even a few literary judgments (Alan is a big fan of Anthony Powell's novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, which both he and Jeeves are reading).
The Washington Post
Alan Blair is a ne’er-do-well New Jerseyite who has failed to follow his first novel, “I Pity I,” published seven years ago, with a second. At thirty, he’s alcoholic, afraid of confronting the bellicose uncle with whom he lives, and would be penniless but for an accident settlement. His most treasured possessions are a collection of dubious sports coats and a valet, who just happens to be named Jeeves. As you’d expect, Jeeves is circumspect, judicious, and ready at hand; what he may not be is real. Ames’s inventive romp follows its hero into very un-Wodehousian territory—an artists’ colony in upstate New York (based, in withering detail, on Yaddo), where the action revolves around art, sex, and larceny. But Jeeves remains faithful throughout; no amount of bad behavior can wring from him a sterner rejoinder than “Very strange, sir.”
Ames's (My Less Than Secret Life) latest over-the-top offering concerns a week in the life of Alan Blair, a 30-something novelist and booze hound coasting along thanks to a fall on the ice that netted him a hefty lawsuit payout. Said quarter-million means that Alan can avoid employment and hire a valet named Jeeves, who inhabits the spare bedroom in the modest Montclair, N.J., home of Alan's uncle and aunt ("the old flesh and blood"). After Alan refuses to go back to rehab, Aunt Florence and Uncle Irwin have no choice but to oust him, so Alan and Jeeves hit the road, heading for an artists' colony in Saratoga Springs where "careworn" Alan might finish his second novel, a roman clef based on an elderly playwright he'd roomed with in Manhattan years ago. Varied ruminations on human sexuality (mostly Alan's obsession with homosexuality) and the nature of men's room wall graffiti follow. One night, looking for a good time, a very drunk Alan calls a number scribbled in a gas station phone book and gets mightily punished for it, but he arrives at the Rose Colony in one piece. Surrounded by the nutty residents at the picturesque retreat (" `It's glorious, Jeeves,' I said. `Like Brideshead' ") Alan tries to write, but excessive drinking and passionate lovemaking to sculptor Ava steals his time away. An accusation of theft and a bout with pubic lice complicate matters, but good-natured Jeeves escapes unscathed with his reliable retort: "Very good, sir." Ames's tale zips along, brimming with comedy and wild details, proving him to be a winning storyteller and a consummate, albeit exceedingly eccentric, entertainer. Agent, Rosalie Siegel. (July) Forecast: There's a whole host of folks out there wishing P.G. Wodehouse had written a few more Jeeves novels; no doubt they'll snap up this zany homage. With a nine-city tour and an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman (Ames is a regular guest) scheduled for the month of publication, this book should be Ames's biggest yet. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In this bow to P.G. Wodehouse, Ames (The Extra Man) creates Alan Blair, a dapper, 30-year-old Jewish alcoholic novelist who's acquired "independent means" in a recent insurance settlement. As befits a man of his station, he hires a personal valet named Jeeves. Not so befitting is his current living situation: he rooms with his aunt and uncle in Montclair, NJ, but they boot him out when he won't return to rehab. No matter; Alan has been accepted to an artists' colony in Saratoga Springs, NY (a lunatic asylum in disguise?). Despite his good intentions, Alan can't stay out of trouble, but Jeeves-always respectfully correct-is there to serve up advice. As no one else in the story acknowledges the valet, the reader wonders whether he exists outside Alan's mind. Ames's fourth novel strings readers along in a madcap adventure complete with a lively and varied set of characters. There is something for everyone here. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/04.]-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Educ. Lib., Ashaway Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A demented picaresque about a Portnoy-ish neurotic (and his valet) who leaves the safety of Montclair, New Jersey, and heads for the untamed wilds. As he showed in his earlier nonfiction, Ames (My Less Than Secret Life, 2002, etc.) appears to be a very strange young man: self-absorbed, sexually obsessed, utterly paranoid-traits shared here by his alter ego, Alan Blair. A young writer with one novel to his credit, Alan is 30 and working on his second book, a roman a clef about an obscure playwright who was his roommate for a few years. Having received $250,000 in a lawsuit for slipping on an icy Park Avenue sidewalk, Alan has the means to take it easy for a while. So he's hired a valet named Jeeves to look after him in the New Jersey home of his uncle Irwin and aunt Florence-Alan's only family since his parents died some years before-and given up any pretense of working for a living, but drinking like a fish instead. So much so, in fact, that his uncle and aunt show him some tough love by showing him the door. Alan takes it in stride and heads off to the Catskills with Jeeves. There, he stays in a forgotten Hasidic resort, goes on a bender, and gets in trouble by telephoning a "for a good time call" number he found in a gas station. He's rescued, if that's the word, by winning a fellowship to an arts colony in Saratoga Springs, where (probably for the first time in his life) he's surrounded by a group of people even weirder than himself. He drinks a lot more, contracts pubic lice, is accused of theft and anti-Semitism, and falls in love. He even manages to write a little. Pungent and hilarious, if completely off the deep end: Ames is like a perpetual undergraduate jokester, whom you eitherlove or hate on first sight. Agent: Rosalie Siegel/International Literary Agent, Inc.