Jonathan Ames is a man obsessed — with prostitutes, with bodily functions, with his friend’s prosthetic Mangina, but mostly with himself. In My Less Than Secret Life, his hilarious new collection of essays, short ”fiction” (sure), and assorted odds and ends, the author of the brilliant 1998 novel ”The Extra Man” doesn’t so much contemplate his navel as fiddle with the muck within. His compulsively readable exploits — alternately pervy and poignant, sometimes at the same time — reveal a chatty exhibitionist who’ll try anything once, so long as there’s a good story in it.
Whether he’s having a lubricious public encounter with a Cuban hooker, being refused entry into a Manhattan orgy, or attempting to enlarge his penis through hypnosis, Ames imbues the smutty with a sentimentality that elevates his work way above that of most sex-mad self-deprecators. Besides, there’s probably no other writer alive who can make earwax removal sound arousing.