Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Alcoholic

by Jonathan Ames (story) and Dean Haspiel (art), 136 pages

Smart, clever, likeable Jonathan A. has his first drink in high school, and though he certainly looks back often, he can't leave the stuff alone for long.  As years pass, he survives and even succeeds despite his wide range of ill-advised habits and choices, which only makes him hate himself more.  Sex, drugs, life, death, love, loneliness, and always the booze confuse, sabotage, and buoy him and take him for physical and emotional highs and lows no rollercoaster could match, however much he tells himself he should and will get off.

You're not sure how much of Jonathan A. there is in Jonathan Ames, but you can't help but connect the two and read this as elaborated-upon reality, making the emotional turmoil and stubborn vulnerability of the protagonist believable and affecting, however ridiculous and unlikely some of the messes he gets into may be.  It feels unsparingly honest even if it's all made up.  The lack of willpower, the rationalizing, the self-awareness paired with the inability to do anything about it are all too familiar to anyone who's ever done something stupid more than once, regardless of scale.  And Haspiel's clean, simple art is as self-deprecating and relatable as the story it conveys.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jenny~
    I too read the book and find your insights to be right dead on the money. His self-awareness and inability to change are too true for this to be anything other than honesty. Trust me, as an addict and alcoholic, there is no mess too ridiculous or unlikely (or twisted) for us. This is, unfortunately, just run of the mill. And I too thought the art complimented the story very well--too fancy would not have worked.