Jonathan Ames Still Hates Himself


In a new interview with Paul Harris at the Guardian, Jonathan Ames says, “I don’t really recognize success. I don’t see myself as on an upwardly mobile trajectory. I see myself as on the edge of a cliff about to fall off.” The author of the infamous essay, “I Shit My Pants in the South of France,” and the creator of the HBO series Bored to Death divulges to Harris that “privately I can still feel wounded, feel terrible and hate myself…” thus revealing that he is yet another self-hating New York Jew who loves to complain about his lot. And for this, we will love him, especially since he boxes under the name “the Herring Wonder” and sports a crooked nose and jaunty little hats.

On Bored to Death, Ames is played by Jason Schwartzman. Watch the duo explain the show and wander around Brooklyn below. Around 3:09, Ames explains, “The Williamsburg Bank building looms over [Fort Greene] park. I called it once the most phallic building in the world.” We agree. It’s always been a little disturbing to us that the massive erection at 1 Hanson Place is how we find our way back to Fort Greene when we’re lost.

In the interview, Ames also discusses the hazards of oversharing, which has become decidedly more common in our culture since his literary debut in 1989, when Philip Roth wrote this blurb for I Pass Like Night: “Mr. Ames’s antisocial young hero comes through as a cross between Jean Genet and Holden Caulfield in the age of AIDS.” Since then, he’s been confessing his private shame to the world at large, and the audience has grown considerably in the past few years. What do you think of Ames? Is this the nadir of narcissism or is it thought-provoking exhibitionism — a man’s nakedly honest thoughts and desires laid out for all to see?

Image credit: Jason Schwartzman and Jonathan Ames courtesy of Guest of a Guest