The Alcoholic


Author: Jonathan Ames (writer) & Dean Haspiel (illustrator)

Title: The Alcoholic

Genre: graphic novel

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 136

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: Present day

Plot Summary: Jonathan A. became an alcoholic after his very first drink.  At fifteen he was at a party with his best friend Sal when the two got drunk for the first time.  It made him feel confident and cool for the first time in his life.  From then on he would spend every weekend drinking and vomiting.  He learned to use the weekdays to recover and prepare for another binge.

The Alcoholic is the self-narrated story of two and a half decades of Jonathan A.’s life of alcoholism and sobriety.  The story centers on Jonathan’s character and the interpersonal relationships that are all encompassing in his life.  Jonathan puts all of himself into a small number of these relationships, all of which end sooner than he expects. The pain of separation drives him back to alcohol and drugs over and over again.  Jonathan repeats the process of self hatred and self repair that he began as a teenager throughout the rest of his life.  Although Jonathan grows to understand this process, it is not clear if he will ever overcome it. The book is illustrated in a realistic black and white style, which adds to the gritty and melancholy tone of the book.

Subject Headings: alcoholics – fiction, New York – fiction, graphic novels, September 11, 2001 – fiction, fictional memoirs

Appeal: addiction, character centered, urban setting, novelists, alcoholism, realistic art, 9/11, rehabilitation, failed relationships, therapy, family deaths, gritty, bleak, dark, melancholy, explicit, candid, disturbing

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: melancholy, character centered, addiction

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Alcohol addiction, recovery, and relapse are at the center of this memoir.  This book shares an urban New York setting with The Alcoholic.

American Widow by Alissa Torres (author) and Sungyoon Choi (Illustrator)

This autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Alissa Torres’s struggles with the loss of her husband, Eddie.  Eddie was killed on 9/11, the second day at his new job.  This graphic novel shares the time and place setting of New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic

In this candid memoir, Scoblic documents her life of addiction and recovery. Her addiction began in high school and followed her through college and her early adult life.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Filthy Rich by Brian Azzerello (writer) and Victor Santos (illustrator)

This bleak and gritty graphic novel is set in New York City.  Richard Junkin was a failed pro-football player and now a failed car salesman.  Things only go downhill from there after Junkin takes a new job as a bodyguard.  The black and white realistic illustrations add to the gritty tone of this noir-style graphic novel.

Richard Stark’s Parker: the Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (writer, illustrator) and Richard Stark (author)

This graphic novel is a gritty and bleak adaptation of Richard Stark’s crime novel Hunter.  The story is set in New York City in the 1960s.  The dual toned artwork sets a dreary and melancholy mood.

Blame by Michelle Huneven

This novel tells the story of Patsy MacLemoore’s guilt over the tragic results of her alcohol addiction.  This addiction story centers on themes of guilt and redemption.

Name: Noel M.


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