The EXTRA MAN by Jonathan Ames

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 11 Critic Reviews



Jonathan Ames, whose debut novel I Pass Like Night was enthusiastically praised by Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates, has followed up with a brilliant and comic second novel.
Louis Ives, the narrator of The Extra Man, fancies himself a young gentleman fashioned after his heroes in the books of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He dresses the part -- favoring neckties, blue blazers, and sport coats. But he also has a penchant for women's clothing, a weakness that causes him to lose his job as a teacher at a Princeton day school after a bizarre incident involving a colleague's brassiere. Thrust out of Princeton, he heads to New York where he rents a cheap room in the madly discombobulated apartment of Henry Harrison, a failed but brilliant playwright who dances alone to Ethel Merman records, sneaks into Broadway shows, and performs with great style the duties of a walker -- an escort for the rich widows of the Upper East Side.
The two men, separated in age by more than forty years, develop a relationship that is irascible mentor and eager apprentice, and they form a bond the depths of which neither expected. But Louis, when he's not with Henry, has fascinations that lead him to an unusual community on the fringes of the sex world of Times Square. He develops a secret life there, which he fears will be his undoing and which he must keep hidden from Henry at all costs.
A hilarious yet moving story about friendship and longing, The Extra Man is an original and unforgettable novel by one of America's most talented young writers.

About Jonathan Ames

See more books from this Author
JONATHAN AMES is the author of I Pass Like Night; The Extra Man; What’s Not to Love?; My Less Than Secret Life; Wake Up, Sir!; I Love You More Than You Know; The Alcoholic; and The Double Life Is Twice As Good. He’s the creator of the HBO® Original Series Bored to Death and has had two amateur boxing matches, fighting as “The Herring Wonder.” For more information visit
Published December 3, 1998 by Scribner. 384 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The EXTRA MAN

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

As Henry comes to trust and like him, he teaches Louis his tricks for doing Manhattan on the ultracheap: they sneak into shows after intermission, eat their fill at art openings, and enjoy some memorable binges with Henry’s hard-partying coterie of widowed ladies.

| Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN


By contrast, Jonathan Ames’ HBO series Bored to Death, based on one of his short stories, has all the quirkiness and even many similar characters to this film, but captures a joy, charm, warmth and satisfying sense of plot that is lacking here.

Jul 23 2010 | Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN

AV Club

See more reviews from this publication

As Kline shows Dano how to navigate the decaying, increasingly arcane corridors of New York’s high society, the mentor finds a willing apprentice: someone who’s eager to justify his pathetic life by claiming to live by a code.

Jul 29 2010 | Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN

Suite 101

A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of Arts, filmmaker Jane Ji has been involved in many projects, but none as intimately as her thesis film, Line & Sinker.

| Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN

Suite 101

Upon finding a cheap room for rent, he soon finds himself the room mate of an eccentric, failed play wright named Henry Harrison, an elderly gentleman whose quirky demeanor and zest for life quickly revitalize the confused Louis.

May 31 2010 | Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN

Huffington Post

It's so great to see Kevin Kline in a role so perfectly suited to his comedic talents that it's tempting to give The Extra Man a pass on the basis of his performance alone.

Jul 28 2010 | Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN


Unfortunately, it’s the extras in the film — Dano’s cross-dressing, the layers of eccentricities, and Katie Holmes — that prevent The Extra Man from fulfilling the promise of Ames’ novel.

| Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN


This is, after all, a story based on an autobiographical novel, and Jonathan Ames makes it clear in his commentary track that Henry Harrison is a faithful recreation of very real person, one whose story Ames felt needed to be told as a “great American character”.

Feb 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN

NY Daily News

SEX TO DIE FOR: When kinky online torture sex went wrong during the Web's early days ...

Jul 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN


Jonathan Ames is someone I plan to read now that I've gotten a sense of what his voice and his personality is, and I hope I enjoy his prose as much as I've enjoyed these two very different projects, both of which are eccentric comedies energized by exceptional casts.

Sep 21 2010 | Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN

In one of the most touching scenes, Louis takes Henry's place as an escort for a regular client, Vivian (Marian Seldes), and the old woman finds him to be a gentleman of the highest caliber and quality.

| Read Full Review of The EXTRA MAN

Reader Rating for The EXTRA MAN

An aggregated and normalized score based on 61 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review