What’s Not To Love by Jonathan Ames, Seattle Times

Arts & Entertainment: Sunday, August 06, 2000

‘What’s Not to Love’ is hilarious, postmodern

By Mark Lindquist
Special to The Seattle Times

There’s not much to say about this book except that it is often hilarious.

Here is what Ames says in an open letter to reviewers:

“I should describe the book for you, shouldn’t I? First of all, I’ve written two novels, ‘I Pass Like Night,’ and ‘The Extra Man,’ and this new book is a comic autobiography. I call it that because I’m fashionably avoiding the word ‘memoir,’ due to some memoir backlash about a year ago, but that’s just what this is – a memoir. I wrote this book in serial-like fashion in three years in a column I penned for a weekly newspaper called The New York Press. The word ‘perverted’ in my subtitle refers to some escapades I may have had that fall a little outside the norm of human relations, but not too far outside. After all, my parents – though they aren’t writing me lifesaving checks – still like to see me, as does my teenage son, so the book is not just a perverted memoir, if you know what I mean.”

What Ames means, I think, is that he doesn’t write exclusively about his penis, though it is a leitmotif.

Ames is obsessed with angst and sex, usually together, a bit like Philip Roth, but with an excessively self-reflective postmodern voice that brings to mind Dave Eggers and his smark-alecky ilk.

Ames’s second-favorite subject after his penis is his health, particularly his testicles and bowels. This is a Farrelly brothers’ movie for people who would never see a Farrelly brothers’ movie.