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Dry Hardcover – May 13, 2004

482 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Fans of Augusten Burroughs's darkly funny memoir Running with Scissors were left wondering at the end of that book what would become of young Augusten after his squalid and fascinating childhood ended. In Dry, we find that although adult Augusten is doing well professionally, earning a handsome living as an ad writer for a top New York agency, Burroughs's personal life is a disaster. His apartment is a sea of empty Dewar's bottles, he stays out all night boozing, and he dabs cologne on his tongue in an unsuccessful attempt to mask the stench of alcohol on his breath at work. When his employer insists he seek help, Burroughs ships out to Minnesota for detoxification, counseling, and amusingly told anecdotes about the use of stuffed animals in group therapy. But after a month of such treatment, he's back in Manhattan and tenuously sober. And while its one thing to lay off the sauce in rehab, Burroughs learns that it's quite another to resume your former life while avoiding the alcohol that your former life was based around. This quest to remain sober is made dramatically more difficult, and the tale more harrowing, when Burroughs begins an ill-advised romance with a crack addict. Certainly the "recovered alcoholic fighting to stay sober" tale is not new territory for a memoirist. But Burroughs's account transcends clichés: it doesn't adhere to the traditional "temptation narrowly resisted" storyline and it features, in Burroughs himself, a central character that is sympathetic even when he's neither likable nor admirable. But what ultimately makes this memoir such a terrific read is a brilliant and candid sense of humor that manages to stay dry even when recalling events where the author was anything but. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

None of the many readers of Burroughs's mordant memoir debut, Running with Scissors, would doubt that its entertainingly twisted author could manage, by page 41 of his new installment, to check himself into America's frumpiest alcohol rehab facility for gays. Burroughs has a knack for ending up in depraved situations and a vibrant talent for writing about them. Asked to sign reams of legal forms before entering rehab, he notes, "the real Augusten would never stand for this. The real Augusten would say, `Could I get a Bloody Mary, extra Tabasco... and the check?' " Alas, Burroughs's co-workers are tired of him embarrassing clients by spraying Donna Karan for Men not only around his neck but also on his tongue to mask the tangy miasma of alcohol, and they insist he seek help. Initially repulsed by his recovery program's maudlin language and mind-numbing platitudes, Burroughs eventually makes a steadfast, equally incredulous friend in rehab, finds his own salvation and confidently re-enters society. But when he falls for a wealthy crack addict and his best friend begins to succumb to AIDS, the support he'd enjoyed in rehab begins to crumble. One of the many pleasures of Burroughs's first book was the happy revelation that despite the author's surreal, crueler-than-Dickensian upbringing, he managed to land among a tribe of fellow eccentrics. Burroughs strains here to replicate that zany tone and occasionally indulges in navel-gazing, but readers accustomed to his heady cocktail of fizzy humor and epiphanic poignancy won't be disappointed.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Edition edition (May 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184354184X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843541844
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (482 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,959,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Augusten Burroughs is the author of the autobiographical works "Running with Scissors," "Dry," "Magical Thinking," "Possible Side Effects" and "A Wolf at the Table," all of which were New York Times bestsellers. "Running with Scissors" remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two consecutive years and was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Annette Bening. His only novel, "Sellevision," is currently in development as a series for NBC. "Dry," Augusten's memoir of his alcoholism and recovery, is being developed by Showtime. In addition, Burroughs is currently creating an original prime-time series for CBS. Augusten's latest book is called "You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas."

Twice named to Entertainment Weekly's list of the funniest people in America, Augusten has also been the subject of a Vanity Fair cover story and a Jeopardy! answer. His books have made guest appearances in two James Patterson novels, one Linkin Park music video, numerous television shows and a porn movie.

Augusten has been a photographer since childhood and many of his images can be seen on his website, He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on July 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Wilson on February 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
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.
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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified 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.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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.
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