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I Pass Like Night (Contemporary Classics (Washington Square Press)) Paperback – July 1, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

PW observed that "sex, isolation and urban squalor are the ingredients of this coolly objective, rather studied first novel" featuring New Yorker Alex Vine, who uses sex to stave off ennui. "Despite the no-holds-barred accounts of his liaisons, Vine's lack of introspection distances the reader from the story."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Joyce Carol Oates Disturbing and funny...a striking debut.

Vanity Fair Jonathan Ames's acclaimed fictional odyssey inside New York City's sexual underground is the first novel from this arresting and original writer. Bleakly funny, fiercely moving, this starkly rendered chronicle of a young man's secret life is both unforgettable and "unabashedly shocking."

Philip Roth An authentic voice of youthful suffering. Mr. Ames's antisocial young hero comes through as a cross between Jean Genet and Holden Caulfield in the age of AIDS. The style is the real achievement: strong, clean, and poker-faced.

Joyce Carol Oates Cinematic in its short, graphic takes, chilling in its authority....A disturbing and often funny portrait of a man without illusions.

USA Today Evokes the lean style of Raymond Carver.

Kirkus Reviews Impressive...Ames set[s] down haunting urban scenes in a spare style that works like poetry.

Time Out London Unerringly builds up an accurate portrait of a dissolute young man floundering in a sea of amorality.

The Times Literary Supplement London This is New York at street level. Ames is something of a gambler [but he] negotiates the pitfalls with remarkable dexterity....There is an unforced sadness at the heart of this novel, and there lies the proof that the gamble has succeeded.

Dallas Morning News Crazy, frightening, poignant, funny encounters...utterly fearless in its unsentimental depiction of a young man courting self-destruction.

Booklist Ames makes [Alexander Vine] as horrifying an emblem of American young manhood as the coke-snorters of Bright Lights, Big City and Less Than Zero.
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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Classics (Washington Square Press)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (July 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067103426X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671034269
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Ames is the author of the novels Wake Up, Sir!, The Extra Man, and I Pass Like Night; a graphic novel, The Alcoholic (with artwork by Dean Haspiel), and the essay collections I Love You More Than You Know, My Less Than Secret Life, and What's Not to Love? He is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a former columnist for New York Press. Ames performs frequently as a storyteller and has been a recurring guest on David Letterman. He has fought in two amateur boxing matches as "The Herring Wonder," and he has peformed in a number of shows. Ames had the lead role in the IFC film "The Girl Under the Waves," was a porn-extra in the porn film "C-Men," and played himself in a pilot episode for the Showtime network. At the time, he said, "It's the role I've been waiting for!" He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jonathan Ames began this first novel while in college. Self-deprecatingly, he's written elsewhere that he "prematurely ejaculated [it] at 25." It's a sad and sometimes haunting story told in a forty-odd often gem-like short chapters. A boy: his family, his childhood and adolescence, and his present life, which veers between feeling like too much ("I'm an apple with a razor inside") and too little - each and every day.
Protagonist Alexander Vine is adored by his mother, who has told him "If anything happened to you, my life would be over." He has problems with his father (he cannot bear to hear him eat). He goes to summer camp and gets poison ivy. He plays in the woods with friends as a child. He totals the family car playing "Starsky and Hutch" with a buddy. He loves his great-aunt, and mourns the loss of his grandfather. He's afraid of a lot of things. He's afraid of germs, but likes bums, drunks, and street people very much.
The adult Vine at times can barely get out the door. "I spent the whole day moving in and out of consciousness between naps and reveries, counting the hours until the free phone-sex message would change." He recalls the details of a wholly conventional and loving middle-class family and upbringing (sometimes with a lot of humor). He frequents peep shows and prostitutes. He is a good friend to his friends. Sex with both men and women (and there is a lot of it in his story) means everything and nothing to the protagonist: excitement, anticipation, surrender and the hope of communion, an escape from boredom. But the event never quite succeeds the way he hopes that it will. He wants passion and love - and never gives up hope.
Like F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Crack-Up," these interesting pieces vary in length and in mood, are arresting and varied, are either autobiographical or not, and together form a terrifically cohesive whole. I enjoyed this novel very much.
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Format: Paperback
"I Pass Like Night" is the first novel by Jonathan Ames, who has gone on to write the very funny, "The Extra Man," and whose ribald and eccentric (and frequently hilarious) columns appear in the free weekly, The NY Press, in NYC. Today, Ames' writing has a light feel about it, as if he is flittling through troubled waters without a care. "I Pass Like Night" does not have that quality. It is dark and seamy, and the protagonist frequently seems genuinely confused and afraid of the world. The subject matter -- sex of every shape and variation -- is his forte. Here, unlike in his columns where he frequently encounters women, or in "The Extra Man," where he frequents transvestite hookers, Ames begins in a park with a hooker and progresses (?) to being picked up and virtually raped by men. It is not funny like his present writing. That said, it is a very engaging book. Through reminiscences of his childhood, we get a glimpse of why he is the way he is. And that is very rare today. Very little writing does that, or even attempts to go there. (The writing on the HBO series "The Sopranos" does this with great skill.) I do prefer "The Extra Man" to "I Pass Like Night," but I own them both, have read them both more than once, and recommend them both. Jonathan Ames is a very entertaining writer. Twenty years from now, I suspect we might consider his stuff "important."
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Format: Hardcover
well i have just finished a lengthy fan letter to Mr. Ames thanking him for all the literary treasures he has graced me with. I Pass Like Night is not unlike his other stories in which the central characters (seemingly based on Ames himself) all share a certain role of the loney, self-depracating, pathetic, and perverted young man. But whilst you are deep into the scattering experiences of Alexander Vine, Night's main character,you notice that nothing has really been started or solved. there is no real story here but a collection of character experiences that have made Mr. Vine somewhat of an adult child just wanting to be saved. Like all of Ames writing that i find to hold the feeling of perversion and lonlieness while still being comical, this is definitly a heavier work that depicts the life of a character who is lost and never quite found in NYC. I Pass Like Night is appropriately titled as well ,as Mr. Vine seems to survive by floating in and out of each experience totally aware that he is not much more than a mere existance. This is a wonderful book that feels for the lost souls.
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Format: Paperback
All of the sexual inconsistencies of Ames' first-person narrators form a collective metaphor for the human condition, at least the part that's honest enough to admit it: we're all just as curious about, and inconsistent with, our sexuality at some point between puberty and death. Ames' narrators are simply refusing to follow the popular and convenient trend of bracketing sexuality...
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Format: Paperback
This is an exceptionally moving, delicately structured novel. The (anti)hero is a product of brutal psychological abuse at the hands of a weepy father whose despair and self-hatred graft themselves onto his young son's body, haunting the son on his self-obliterating path through life. The examination of the young man's own desparate need and failure to give and receive love are the novel's greatest, and most devastating, accomplishments. The unflinching manner and lightness of touch land Ames somewhere between Plath and Hemingway. ... ...
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I Pass Like Night (Contemporary Classics (Washington Square Press))
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