143 of 150 people found the following review helpful
Augusten Burroughs' last book (RUNNING WITH SCISSORS) chronicled his bizarre childhood, including his dysfunctional family, the even more dysfunctional family he lived with when his mother had a series of nervous breakdowns, and his relationship with a pedophile. DRY: A MEMOIR picks up about 10 years later; Burroughs has a successful career in New York advertising and is a raging alcoholic. He's in denial about his problem, so he's surprised when his co-workers stage an intervention and even more surprised when he reluctantly agrees to a 30-day rehab stint. The book follows his attempts to remain sober, deal with his past, and cope with some harmful romantic relationships.
The book often skewers the mental health system, replete with therapy-speak, AA meetings, and self-help lingo, However, Burroughs adopts a fairly benign, almost affectionate, tone toward mental health workers. Ultimately, DRY is filled with the kind of wit and attitude you've come to expect from Burroughs. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and I felt some real suspense reading to see whether he'd relapse.
Burroughs is quickly establishing himself as a quirky and talented writer. Although he may be pegged by some as a "gay author," his work is pretty universal and likely to appeal to many different audiences. I most highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more of his work.
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2008
You will like this book:
*If you have not read too many other of Burroughs' books (some of the life details get repetitive)
*If you appreciate a cynical outlook and a dry sense of humor
*If you can handle raw, sometimes harsh details
*If you are alright reading about gay relationships and a few intimate details
*If you are moved by an honest struggle with addiction in life and want to get a glimpse of that struggle
*If you are not looking for flowery prose, but prefer direct, easy to read material that flows and doesn't linger on any one part of his life too much.
I started to give this book 4 stars, wanted to give it 3.5 (not an option) and settled on 3. It's a good, easy read - interesting and pointed. The reason I settled on 3 instead of 4 stars is that too much cynical gets tiring even for a cynical person. It is a rather dark read with some humor in the honesty of his arrogance and pride. Definitely a 3 1/2 star book.
65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Augusten Burroughs is one of the most entertaining writers on the current scene. After reading his RUNNING WITH SCISSORS and accepting the fact that it was truly a memoir (ie, he really DID have that childhood!), most of us who loved that book couldn't wait to see if he would be able to maintain his particular level of genius dry humor. Well, here it is. DRY is the continued life of this amazing writer. It is one of the most hilarious books around - Burroughs candid observations written sotto voce without quotation marks could be the dialogue for the best standup comedians on any stage. And he is not kidding!
A book about alcoholism, or rather about any kind of addiction (crack cocaine, alcohol, sex, heroine, etc), is not the expected basis for a comedic book. But Burroughs takes us through blitzkrieg drunkeness, living at the bottom of the toilet, commiting to rehab, then the whole process of AA meetings and therapy and manages to make us laugh uncontrollably. His cast of characters includes his co-workers in his successful career in advertising, his pre-rehab friends, his acquaintances from his gay rehab group, his assorted roommates and quasilovers, and his real devotion to Pighead, a would-be lover now dying of AIDS. Doesn't sound funny, does it? But life has its own way of offering perspectives in bizarre focal fields and Burroughs knows just how to make it all work. His life is a fantasy trip, and a dangerous one at that, but through all his highs and lows he keeps us on his side, and we willingly laugh and cry right along with him. This is a superb second book. Read them both - and then take a little time for introspection about how we all interact, knee deep in our foibles.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2003
Addiction is not funny. And recovery is not entertaining. Unless, that is, these subjects are in the hands of Augusten Burroughs. Then, it is not merely unexpectedly funny and entertaining but appropriately poignant and touching as well. In DRY, the follow-up to his bestselling memoir RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, Burroughs is all grown up and working in the cutthroat world of advertising. To cope with his high stress and demanding career, not to mention the issues and trauma surrounding his childhood, Burroughs drinks. And drinks. And drinks. In order to keep his job, Burroughs checks himself into a 30-day rehabilitation program. With the support of the rehab staff and his fellow patients, he starts to evaluate his drinking and his life, soon admitting to his alcoholism. But when he finds himself back at work, surrounded by old friends, enemies and drinking buddies, sobriety proves to be a difficult challenge.
With sobriety, Burroughs must not only come to terms with his friendship with HIV positive Pighead, he must also make painful choices about new friends and lovers. Sober living is, of course, not without its temptations and Burroughs is honest that not all of his post-rehab decisions were good ones. But honesty is a key component in DRY; it is never lacking in this memoir. Powered by lots of coffee and fresh insight, Burroughs is just as hilarious in describing his navigation of a life clean and sober as he is in describing his drunken escapades. The supporting cast is full of similarly neurotic figures, which just goes to show you that everyone has an interesting story to tell. Burroughs, however, concentrates on his own and the book reads like a cross between a great tale told to close friends, a stand-up routine and, most often, a therapeutic catharsis.
DRY is simply wonderful. It is a frightening look at an awful situation and a difficult triumph told in Burroughs's unique and hysterically funny voice. Comparisons with the work of David Sedaris are obvious, but Burroughs has a much darker and grittier side and his observances are most often pointed inward, resulting in a bittersweet and heartbreaking tale told with sarcasm, wit and laugh-out-loud moments. Augusten Burroughs is a natural storyteller and his best stories are about himself. DRY is not always comfortable, but it is never predictable and is thoroughly rewarding.
From happy hours lasting until the next day with his mortician friend, to the silly and sad rituals of rehab and recovery, from bad news boyfriends to the bedside of the ever-patient Pighead, DRY is an easy read but a hard emotional journey. It is a hip and eccentric addition to a genre that is often dull, sappy or whitewashed. For those wondering what happened to the little boy in RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, and for those meeting Burroughs for the first time in DRY, you are sure to be challenged, appalled, inspired and enchanted.
--- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2003
I work in a small bookstore and read Dry during the slow hours in the evening, and really loved it, as I did his earlier memoir Running with Scissors. Dry is very funny, and to sound like a cliche, moving too.
He really has a way of putting words together, and I love his simple, direct sentences. Sometimes three words and a period had me lauging out loud.
In some circles memoirs have bad reputations as somehow being less than real literature, and there are probably enough recovery memoirs out there to satisify any self-help junkie, but Mr. Burrough gives us something fresh, inventive and literate.
He poses questions that all of us have to face at one time or another: how can I live a life full of pain and grief without a crutch to hold me up? More importantly, how do I get rid of the crutch after I've grown to depend on it for every step.
And in his case, he had to try and recover with someone literally trying to sabatoge his efforts.
Anoyone able to face and beat alcoholism deserves strong praise. But someone that can beat it, and write such an honest and hilarious book deserves a medal.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2009
I can't help but be baffled by the high ratio of positive reviews for this book. I hadn't read his previous and listened to it on CD. I really didn't find it worth the time.
Maybe it's because I'm a recovering alcoholic and I was expecting more of the lessons of alcoholism to be explored. Maybe that's not fair, but his accounting of his time in treatment, AA, bottoming out and recovery are trite and without much personal growth. He's shallow and dryly-unfunny when he's drinking, he's shallow and dryly-unfunny when he's in treatment, then he's shallow and dryly-unfunny when he relapses and, finally, he's... you get the picture.
I just found him-- listening to his own narration of his story-- entirely unlikeable. He was un-courageous, un-remorseful, lacking in gratitude and without a shred of spiritual substance. I disliked him mostly because he seems to find himself likeable and describes his experiences with a Paris Hilton-like numb narcissism. Perhaps the positive response to his previous book went to his head.
I admit that I did want this book to unfold another alcoholic's remorse, surrender, and emotional turmoil in a manner in which I could learn from. The journey toward sobriety could be rich material for a memoir. But his journey had little to offer a fellow traveler, I felt. He just didn't seem authentic at all.
Maybe I got taken by the title-- Dry. The term "dry drunk" is something altogether alcoholic in its meaning. Why did he use that title? Maybe Burroughs doesn't realize how shallow his sobriety seems in this accounting.
Anyhoo, I'd much rather have gone to an AA meeting and listened to people less glib and more raw than who he presented here. The beauty of the AA rooms is that people don't care if they're likeable, they're just looking for a place to share and a place to ask for some help.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2004
One of the finest memoirs I've ever read, I could not put it down. It shows what the real bottom of hitting bottom in addiction is like, without the slightest bit of almost...bragging that some memoirists have done, like in Permanent Midnight, where you believe that the author is sort of secretly impressed by his low, that he's showing it off, that he's manipulating the reader. The real story of the low is horrible, it's not glamorous but it is spectacular. I truly did not understand alcoholism until I read this book. Burroughs sense of irony is brilliant. He uses it to explore a point, to take a good look at himself, not to hold the reader at arm's length or, and here I find myself saying it once again, show off. I think every Burroughs book has at least three brilliant thoughts or sentences, that are so good you want to write them down and email them to your friends, that show you something utterly familiar in an absolutely original way. This is like David Sedaris on ... well, crack. Or alcohol. I appreciate Burroughs surviving to write on. And on.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2003
Augusten Burroughs showed how funny dysfunction could be in the excellent biography "Running With Scissors". Anyone who read (and enjoyed) "Running" can't be suprised that the next step for Burroughs would be rehab, which is the core of his new book "Dry".
The cast surrounding Burroughs in this novel comes with its own set of baggage, which gives him new avenues to explore, new failures to ridicule and new situations to extract both humor and pathos. Again, Burroughs makes laughing at his own missteps central to the book's theme, allthough a running second story involving a best friend who is dying of AIDS really turns the reader against Burroughs (until the necessary near-book's end epiphany, which always seems to be a common theme in alcohol-recovery stories).
Burroughs makes a funny, and tragic drunk. His confusion over dates and times, his lying and deceiving friends and co-workers lead to some laugh-out-loud tales. And the long overdue intervention will make a great movie scene someday. But this book hits its stride with Burroughs exiting rehab, and trying to cope in the real world without a drink. Here his yearning for understanding of his own condition, set against a number of incidents (his friend's eventual death, scripting a beer advertising campaign) lead to humor, sadness and understanding, and show us the heart and soul that we suspect is there, but are rarely given a chance to see until the end of the story.
Anyone who has experience with sobriety, or with twelve-step programs will especially enjoy Burrough's experiences in rehab and meetings, but there may be a few too many in-jokes for those not familiar with a sober lifestyle.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2003
"Dry" is possibly better than "Running With Scissors." In it, Augusten Burroughs gives us a funny, but hardly light-hearted, look at his alcohol addiction and recovery. At first he pooh-poohs the idea he might have a problem, and wants to run away from the run-down rehab center he checks himself into. But along the way, something clicks, and he realizes that yes, he does have a problem, and he has to do something about it. Recovery, though, proves to be more difficult than it's advertised to be, and most of the book is dedicated to Augusten adjusting to trying to maintain sobriety in a hostile world, complete with a friend dying of AIDS, a forbidden lover whose first love is crack, and a jealous co-worker who tries to tip Augusten off the wagon. Sobriety is not for wimps, and Augusten -- and the readers -- learn this lesson the hard way. A must read for all Augusten fans and those who are struggling with any kind of addiction.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2005
Burroughs shook up the world with his irreverent and darkly comic memoir of his childhood, Running with Scissors. In the follow-up, he tackles a decidedly unfunny subject: alcoholism. He still manages a dark comic spin on his own alcoholism. Unlike other rehab memoirs, Burroughs doesn't open the book as a saved man who has seen the light and reflects back on his troubled days. Burroughs opens the book with him drinking every night, missing work meetings, scaring clients, and thinking he's doing fine and can stop anytime. When his co-workers convince him to go to rehab, he fully believes that he'll do a little stint in a nice, posh place with celebrities (maybe some charming gay men, too?), they'll teach him how to drink socially instead of to extremes, and he'll go back into the world as a normal social drinker. Wouldn't that be nice?
The road to sobriety is a lot harder. Burroughs makes the classic mistake of choosing a recovering(?) crack addict as the love of his life, making for a very rocky road to sobriety. In a book that is never preachy and often mocks traditional touchy-feeliness, Burroughs weaves a compelling tale about coming to terms with addition and making a better start for the interpersonal relationships in his life. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, such as, "I like the idea of seeing a shrink once a week as maintenance. It's another chance to talk about myself without being interrupted. Plus, a shrink doesn't really know me, so I can present a more balanced picture of who I really am."
For those who enjoyed Dry, Magical Thinking is a terrific follow-up about Burroughs' post-NY life in the suburbs with his partner. Also recommended is James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, and the follow-up, My Friend Leonard.