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The Alcoholic Hardcover – September 30, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With stints as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter under his belt, Ames tries his hand for the first time at the graphic novel. Beautifully illustrated in moody, expressionist panels by Haspiel, The Alcoholic tells the story of Ames’ alter ego, Jonathan A., and his self-destructive love affair with the bottle. Jonathan’s taste for liquor begins, as for many with his affliction, during illicit high-school parties. From there, his binges follow their own unique trajectory, keeping pace with an undistinguished college career and following him into an oddly successful livelihood as writer of hard-boiled detective fiction. Ames lends a quirky flavor to Jonathan’s occasionally nightmarish narrative by eavesdropping on his relationship with his aging great-aunt; the perplexing estrangement of his best friend, Sal; a heartbreaking romance with a woman he refers to as “San Francisco”; and a drunken midlife tryst with an octogenarian dwarf. Yet Jonathan’s tale is ultimately a universal one, reflecting the struggles all of us have in navigating the tributaries of career and relationships while keeping personal demons at bay. --Carl Hays

Review

Rarely does a collaboration produce a graphic novel of such literary and artistic merit. -- Kirkus Reviews June 16, 2008

THE ALCOHOLIC is gonna be hard to top as my favorite original graphic novel of the year. -- Brian K. Vaughan, writer Y: THE LAST MAN

this hilarious, wrenching story gorgeously illustrated in a graphic novel is a flat-out thrill. -- Bret Easton Ellis, author LESS THAN ZERO, AMERICAN PSYCHO
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo; First Edition edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401210562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401210564
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alcoholic is the story of Jonathan A.'s introduction to drinking and the life he leads thereafter. While he starts with alcohol, he eventually ends up with a drug addiction as well. Aside from this, he is also emotionally dependent; he finds himself particularly obsessed with certain relationships that he cannot seem to escape. Perhaps this emotional disturbance, coupled with what seems to be poor self-confidence as a teen, create the void he desperately tries to fill with his addictions.

Throughout the story, he deals with many things that other people deal with i.e., same-sex experimentation, failed relationships, death, disease, 9/11. However, Jonathan chooses to deal with stress and emotions by drowning them in alcohol or drugs. He seeks help from time to time, but it seems inevitable that he will fall back into his old ways at the first sign of stress. The saddest part of the story, to me, is that Jonathan A. manages to be successful in many aspects of his life despite his emotional and chemical dependencies. I can only imagine what he could have accomplished if not for the addictions.

Given the name of the main character and the resemblance in the artwork, I have entertained the idea this may be a semi-autobiographical work. At the very least, it would seem to be intended to make a reader consider the possibility. Such a work would fit somewhat with some of the 12 Steps - making a moral inventory, admitting the nature of wrong deeds, making amends, and carrying the message to other addicts. In the story Jonathan A. (a nod to anonymity in meetings?) says that he goes to a couple of AA Meetings at the urging of his rehab therapist, but does not find it to be something he thinks will help him.
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1 Comment 23 of 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this (memoir? autobiographical novella?) in the form of a graphic novel, author Jonathan Ames has chosen to tell us about his struggles through life as an alcoholic (and addictions to other drugs). While the story is engaging enough for an entertaining read, I felt there was nothing new here that hasn't been told a hundred times before by other alcoholics in other memoirs and bios (one is never a "recovering" alcoholic). More interesting are the milieu in which our hero ("Jonathan A.") resides. We have some 9/11 scenes, we have some sex scenes, we have some author-reading-in-public scenes, and some "lost weekend" scenes. All in all, a fair graphic novel--not bad at all, but not great either.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I just sat down and read The Alcoholic from cover to cover. I think I put it down once to check on the kids. Other than that, I immersed myself in it. Ames takes you right inside his world, the highs, the lows, the humiliating moments, and those rare moments of insight that each of us get in small doses from time to time. Best of all, he avoids the temptation to slap a happily-ever-after ending on it, leaving things open and ambiguous, but hopeful. A great read, and the drawings by Haspiel add a lot. The book reminded me of Legal Tilt, which I also recommend.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Those looking for action and adventure in their graphic novels need to look elsewhere. Jonathan Ames has provided us instead with a very compelling and readable account of one man wrestling with his own life and, more fundamentally, his psychology towards that life.

Despite the title, THE ALCOHOLIC is not necessarily about one man's struggle simply with the bottle. Rather, the protagonist, Jonathan A., struggles primarily with his deep sense of isolation, meaninglessness, and all those other existential dilemmas that Germans have some depressing word for. Alcohol and drugs are not ends unto themselves, but paths that tempt Jonathan to tranquilize himself from such pain. The temptation, though, comes at a cost.

Ames' portrayal of Jonathan A. is really quite good and no doubt many readers will empathize with his feelings of alienation, even if the reader's experience of the same has never rooted itself so deep. This alienation is even more poignant as various characters about whom Jonathan A. truly cares keep slipping through his fingers for one reason or another. His feelings for the girl whom he `loves' but who just blows him off time and again will particularly hit the target with more than a few male readers, not only for a good portrayal of emotional states many have experienced, but also providing, painfully, an objective view of just how ridiculous the situation is as seen from the outside.

Dean Haspiel is an excellent choice for the art work accompanying the text. Serious but often with an undertone of humor, his crisp drawings parallel the mood evoked by the storyline. Together with Ames, the collaborators have produced a very enjoyable book for a subject so dark.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Writer Jonathan Ames and artist Dean Haspiel present what may be the most haunting story I have been exposed to this year. "The Alcoholic" unfolds like an articulate AA confessional, and is so interesting that I completed the 136 page graphic novel in one sitting.

Is this fiction or is this a life story? It is presented as fiction, but it is so convincingly human that the reader suspects that many of these events transpired in reality years ago. The story is honest, revealing the flaws and weaknesses of the main character... so honest that it has to be real.

The artwork is penciled in black and white and grey-toned cell shaded. The art is crisp and clear, and the use of contrast is definitely the gift of an experienced artist. Each panel is pleasant to look at and very easy to interpret.

The story though... it will haunt you. This is real adult drama here, nothing that a kid should read. There are graphic sex scenes, but they are not gratuitous. The sex is part of the story, and without it something would be missing. The sex is not here to arouse, it is here to tell the story.

This is a bare-knuckles story about hard drinking. The real deal. Slamming them back, stumbling through the haze of a multi-day bender, sweating it out, and doing it all again.

This story will haunt you long after you finally turn your eyes from last panel.
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