Its best to know this from the start: Augusten Burroughs
is mean. Augusten Burroughs is also outrageously X-rated. If you can get past those two things, Burroughs might just be the most refreshing voice in American books today, and his collection of acerbic essays will have you laughing out loud even while cringing in your seat. Whether he is stepping on the fingers of little children or giving you the blow-by-blow on a very unholy act, Burroughs manages to do it in a way that fills conflicted fans with both horror and glee.
Spanning from the surprisingly Machiavellian portrayal of his role in a Tang commercial at age seven to his more recent foray into dog ownership, Burroughs has what seems to be an endless supply of offbeat life experiences. Much like earlier David Sedaris collections (Barrel Fever or Naked), there are occasional fits and starts in the flow of the writing, but ultimately, Magical Thinking is worth reading (and re-reading). If youre familiar with Burroughs's memoirs, Running with Scissors, and Dry, you may find parts of Magical Thinking repetitive, since these essays bounce around in time between the other two. In fact, in an ideal world, this collection would have come first, as it offers an excellent introduction to Burroughs's fascinating life. --Vicky Griffith
From Publishers Weekly
A psychological term, "magical thinking" describes the belief that one exerts more influence over events than one actually does. Burroughs, who spent childhood days stepping on cracks to see if his mother's back would break, possesses a wealth of magical thought. Like Dry
and Running with Scissors
, this collection showcases Burroughs's sharp, funny and sometimes brilliant writing. Burroughs views his life through a lens of self-deprecation, and the result is pieces like "My Last First Date," describing the first time he met his current boyfriend. After only a short conversation, he fumbles into joking about his life, to the horror of his date, and realizes, "I must ease people into the facts of me, not deposit large, undigested chunks of my history at their feet. Too much of me is toxic." Fortunately, his companion has a high threshold for toxicity, and most readers will, too. Burroughs's smooth prose, peppered with charming and awkward moments, is occasionally reminiscent of David Sedaris and David Rakoff. But he's no imitator of those essayists. Rather, Burroughs ambles toward insight in a continual state of self-examination and just happens to have peculiar adventures along the way, like drowning a mouse in his bathtub, attending the Barbizon School of Modeling and complaining that the "new gay thing in Manhattan" is adopting babies instead of buying shar-pei puppies.
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