book cover of The Extra Man
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The Extra Man

(1998)
A novel by

 
 
Louis Ives was leading a quiet life at the Pretty Brook County Day School in Princeton, New Jersey, until the spring of 1992, when he encountered the brassiere of his colleague Ms Jeffries. As the upshot of that unsavoury episode, Louis is propelled towards Manhattan, and life as the flatmate of the eccentric Henry Harrison, who ekes out a living in his grotty flat as an elderly gigolo, or (put more politely) "the extra man" at society gatherings. They discover a shared admiration of Mrs Slocombe of Are You Being Served fame, and this bizarre arrangement suits Louis fine until he can no longer ignore the urges of his cross-dressing fantasies.

The Extra Man hardly reads as a novel. Its plot slides in and out unobtrusively through a series of well-observed, hilarious anecdotes, full of ironic Manhattan wit. Enough names are dropped, however, to make you realise that this jollity has a serious side--with references to the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dr Krafft-Ebbing

Jonathan Ames has fashioned an unremittingly good-humoured book, whose constantly beaming face conceals its deeper purpose. Imagine sharing a two-room flat with Quentin Crisp. You're nearly there. --Alan Stewart

Genre: General Fiction

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