This week, I would like to introduce you to Augusten Burroughs. Actually, I wish someone would really introduce me to him, because I really like his writing. His memoir, Running with Scissors, and his various audiobooks of essays are at turns shocking and hilarious.
I first encountered Augusten Burroughs in Running with Scissors. Admittedly, I bought it for two reasons: I loved the title and the picture on cover. The image of a boy with a box on his head just made me smile. Given to a truly insane psychiatrist by his mother – yes, she actually gave him to the doctor to raise – Burroughs had to live through some horrifying events.
This could be a downer… but it isn’t. As he recounts his youth with incredible candor, he infuses a sense of “Can you believe the crap that happened to me?” that takes some of the sting away. Beware the sexually explicit descriptions – not for the faint-hearted. This book is like a fabulous train wreck. You just won’t be able to look away.
Burroughs followed the success of Running with Scissors with Dry, his account of his rehab experience. As an advertising executive, he found himself drinking to excess. His dreams of meeting movie stars in rehab quickly dissipated under the fluorescent lights…
After Dry, Burroughs released Magical Thinking, a collection of true stories. His recollections do not always reveal him to be a wonderful person. He is at turns, egocentric and vain, but always gives the impression of being completely open and relatable. If you have read any of his previous works, just imagine him dealing with a domineering cleaning woman. It’s good – seriously good.
Possible Side Effects continues to peer into Burroughs’ windows as he learns about the tooth fairy from his grandmother, plots John Updike’s death, and admits to nicotine gum addiction. The possible side effects of reading this? Uncontrolled laughing and amusement…
I nearly forgot to mention that Augusten Burroughs has also written a novel (read by Robin Miles) called Sellevision. It was written well before his memoirs, and is his only work of fiction, Sellevision is the story of a home shopping network host who inadvertently exposes himself during a toy segment. The cast of characters is over-the-top, as are their actions.
The Wolf at the Table is a stunning look at the psychological cruelty inflicted upon him by the author’s father. I can’t even begin to describe it. Just listen to it…
His work may be sexually provocative and shocking, but it is compelling. I am looking forward to Augusten Burroughs’ You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas.
*Note: The author reads his own audiobooks, with the exception of Sellevision.