Wake Up, Sir! is the third novel from Jonathan Ames, author and creator of HBO’s Bored to Death. The show was adapted from a short story of the same name, and stars Jason Schwartzman as Jonathan Ames, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis (try spelling that drunk). After attending the Bored to Death event at Edinburgh International Film Festival and spying Ames at the closing party, I decided it was time to see what this eccentric New Yorker was all about.
Wake Up, Sir! is narrated by one (unreliable) Alan Blair, an accidental quarter-millionaire and, like Ames in Bored to Death, an author struggling to write his second novel. Oh, and he’s also a neurotic alcoholic. After a run-in with his Uncle whom he has been living with and avoiding, he packs up his belongings and his valet, sardonically named Jeeves, and departs on a journey to detox and finish his novel. After several more incidences, he finds himself at an artists’ retreat with goods more damaged than his own.
Ames’ Alan Blair is a humorous chap, with an acute sense of humour that cloaks a complete lack of worldliness. While amusing at points, the tension between his sharp wit, dull social skills, and impossible naivety are too far at odds to be taken seriously. Jeeves levels him out with his cool, unflappable demeanour and impenetrable patience. Despite his quiet, he is perhaps the most interesting character in the book.
Though the plot unfolds over 4 days, it feels more like 4 weeks (as noted by Alan). Amusing and oftentimes fantastic, it can be a little overzealous at times, but is well worth the journey.
This week is going to be Book Week, in part as celebration of Edinburgh International Book Festival, and in part because I’ve been reading lots and watching very few films. Enjoy!