Author: Augusten Burroughs
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
Augusten Burroughs may be my favorite memoirist. His sense of humor is ribald, irreverent, self-deprecating, and decidedly flamboyant. It is also, I imagine, an acquired taste. Here Burroughs is chronicling his alcoholism, a work-staged intervention, his month-long stay at rehab, and his subsequent efforts at sobriety.
Burroughs plunges us into a normal week night for him, which includes meeting up with a friend at a bar and imbibing drinks steadily. He is, characteristically, hilarious doing so. He has a knack for an unexpected turn of phrase and throws in metaphors, similes, and descriptions that seem crafted to trigger laughter and rarely (at least for me) miss their mark. Burroughs is highly self-aware, and this mix of over the top humor and a clear eye toward his own shortcomings makes for a fast and engrossing read. Even if his then alcoholic self couldn't see it coming, the readers knows that things can't go on this way. The subsequent intervention and ultimatum (go to rehab or lose your job) is not surprising, but is both excruciatingly embarrassing and, well, funny.
As always, Burroughs is unabashed about his sexuality and his stay at a gay rehab center in the Midwest manages to be both heartfelt and, at times, uproarious. Though never maudlin or depressing, Burroughs still reveals the ways lives are derailed by addiction, how relationships buckle and break, jobs evaporate, and priorities align in ways both destructive and predictable. The depiction of group therapy and friendships have innate humor, but also real humanity. Though he entered therapy thinking he didn't need it, Burroughs has more than one epiphany about his addiction and his life while he is there.
âAfter Burroughs returns to New York and he begins the day-to-day work of remaining sober, we are treated not only to his ability to find the ridiculous in everyday life but his continuing journey of figuring out how to fill time previously taken up with drinking, what he can feel ready and willing to give to friends, and how he actually feels about those in his life. In the end sobriety and a relapse, disaster and success, are given the same treatment - that is, devastatingly funny and revealingly honest.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...