Describe your latest project.
My new book, I Love You More Than You Know, is a collection of essays written between 1998 and 2005 for a wide variety of publications, both print and internet, from the New York Times to mrbellersneighborhood.com to McSweeney's to Bookforum to the Onion to Slate.com to New York Press. The subject matter of the essays is fairly diverse the Mike Tyson/Lennox Lewis fight of 2002, a trip to Club Med in 2003, my ninety-three-year-old great aunt, a pimple I had my on my nose during a book-tour in Germany, the most phallic building in the world, and so on. The book also features some pictures my aforementioned great aunt, myself naked in a fountain with my genitals covered by a funnel, and two of the most phallic buildings in the world; there's also a cartoon self-portrait.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
A Cry for Help: The Life Story of Jonathan Ames
What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
I think I'd like to go out with Anna Karenina. She's so passionate and the implied portrait of her on my edition of Anna Karenina shows a great dark beauty. I think it would be wonderful to make love to a woman from the 19th century. I would also like to make her happy so that she doesn't have to die. Is that codependent of me? Madame Bovary would also be fun to go out with French women have great style.
If you could choose any story to live in, what story would that be?
I'd like to be in a Tarzan novel. One of the other questions asks: If you could have been someone else, who would that be, and why? I'll answer that one here, as well. I'd like to be Tarzan, or, rather, I'd like to be me but with Tarzan's upbringing. I loved the Tarzan novels as a boy. I loved the description of Tarzan's great strength and speed. I wish I was like that. So I'd like to be Jonathan Ames, living in Brooklyn as I do, but with the power and grace of Tarzan.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good place to start.
A lot of people have read Dashiell Hammett, but a lot of people haven't. I would start off with his collection The Continental Op and then tear through the rest of his oeuvre. I love his prose.
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Let's see, the last good book I read was Turn, Magic Wheel by Dawn Powell. I'm not quite sure how it ended up in my hands... I think I was browsing in my local bookstore and I came across it and it occurred to me that I hadn't read her lately. That's not a very exciting story of book kismet, but it's a fine book, all about writers in New York City, with a character loosely based on Powell's friend, Ernest Hemingway.
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
It's rather boring, but I do enjoy coffee. I also like going to this place in New York called the "Russian Baths." They have this incredibly hot room, a cave-like structure with a furnace, and some very good steam rooms, and I love to go there and sweat and forget about life.
Why do you write?
I sometimes enjoy it, and if it goes well it pleases me to possibly entertain other people, to give them some distraction, some pleasure.
Do you read blogs? What are some of your favorites?
Maud Newton's and Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant, which is simply edrants.com. They are both lit blogs and it's fun to see what they uncover or report on in the literary world.