64 of 74 people found the following review helpful
I'm a huge fan of Burroughs. Like most, I first discovered him through his mega-selling "Running with Scissors." I quickly devoured his hysterical novel "Sellevision." I was less impressed with his memoir "Dry," but fell in love all over again when I read his true story collection "Magical Thinking." "Possible Side Effects" is more dry than magical, and shows the author at a crossroads. Though consistently amusing, many pieces in this new collection seem forced and find the author overreaching for a laugh, while still others feel deriviative of those previously published, or rather they seem as though they may have been leftovers - stories that didn't quite make the "Magical" cut.
Still there are many rewards in "Possible Side Effects." My two favorites in this collection were: "The Georgia Thumper," which focuses on the troubled relationship between the young Burroughs and his paternal grandmother; and "The Forecast for Sommer," which is some of the strongest prose writing yet from this author. Deeply felt, though unsentimental, "The Forecast for Sommer" betrays the author's talent for dramatic, melancholy writing and provides a promising glimpse into his future and better things to come.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I was a little worried when I started reading "Possible Side Effects," because the first couple of chapters are kind of slow going. However, I am a big fan of everything Augusten Burroughs has ever written, and this book is no exception. It didn't take long for the pace to pick up and for me to start laughing my ass off. This book isn't a full-length memoir like "Running with Scissors" or "Dry." It's a collection of humorous stories, very similar to "Magical Thinking." Burroughs shares stories from his disturbing childhood all the way through to his present-day, slightly more normal (but still incredibly quirky) life. The stories aren't arranged in any particular order, and there are some really, really good ones in here. My hands-down favorite chapter is "Moving Violations," which describes the author's experiences driving around with his friend Druggy Debby during his teenage years, startling bad drivers by flashing them with enlarged photos of hard-core porn. (I laughed so hard reading that part, my husband actually stepped away from his computer game to see what the hell what was so funny. That is HUGE.)
If you want to read a book written by America's funniest and cleverest writer, "Possible Side Effects" is for you.
48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2006
more weirdness from my favorite writer. vignettes ranging from being terrorized by the tooth fairy to a dog named cow. delighted to see an appearance from his bizarre family again. maybe because his family's neurosis resembled mine. slightly twisted, slightly campy, always funny. some might find his humor a little too dark, not me. he's also discovered he's no longer unrecognizable to the public. my favorite chapter is the one on his brother who for years went undiagnosed with asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism. their interaction with each other is often hilarious, and I loved his brother's nickname's for his family, augusten was "varmint", mom was "slave" and dad "stupid". the back flap has augusten's website address. where he previews his next three books. many giggles throughout, and every bit as funny as anything david sedaris has written. seemingly effortless writing, and razor sharp wit. some may say that it's not up to his usual high standards, but I disagree.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2006
"Possible Side Effects" is a side-splittingly funny, brilliantly self-aware autobiography that reads like a novel. Burroughs' book puts you squarely into his head. And if you're the type of person destined to be a Burroughs' fan, you'll probably be relieved to get out of your own head for a while.
Does David Sedaris make you laugh so hard you cry? Then you'll also love Burroughs -- a wonderful and insightful writer who does all of the heavy lifting for us lucky stiffs in his adoring audience.
Buy this book. Read it. Wait a while. Read the best parts again. Then give it to someone who's been good lately. Better yet, give it to someone who's been bad.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2006
I'm a big fan of this guy, bought this as soon as I could get my hands on it, and cruised right though it. I loved it, and if you like Burroughs' frantic, neurotic writing, like I do, you will not be disappointed. Just like I did while reading his other books, I found myself vascilating between squrming and laughing. And for me, this is the true indicator of good writing -- it grabs me emotionally and makes me feel something.
In this latest collection you'll find essays about Burrough's days spent in the world of advertising, and of course trips back to his (almost unbelievably) tragic childhood. He's stopped drinking and doping by now, but seems to have replaced these vices with other addictions -- nicotine gum, junk food, and, as always, wild, out-of-control introspection.
You'll also find more stories about his brother with Asperger's Syndrom and his depressed mother, all written with a level of sincerity and wry wit that should make David Sedaris jealous.
Is it all true? I've never thought all of his stories were true, and I haven't really cared, but this is the first of his books to actually come out and admit it, in an introductory note. The writing is so good it doesn't really matter. As one other famous memoirist said: Pretend it's fiction.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2006
It takes a lot for a book to make me laugh out loud -- not only did this one make me snort, it also squeezed my gut & made me want to cry.
I'm a big Burroughs fan; I enjoyed this more than Magical Thinking. Can't wait for another one.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2006
I really enjoyed this latest memoir of Mr. Burroughs, almost as much as his first - RWS, Dry and MT. My favorites were his essays on Cow & Bentley, his French Bulldogs, Julia's Child, and the essay on his paternal grandmother. There were a few that seemed like he might be reaching for things to remember to fill out the book, but overall it was with much enjoyment that I read his latest.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2006
I'm a huge fan of Augusten Burroughs, so perhaps it's unfair to compare Possible Side Effects to his other books. I suppose on it's own merits, Possible Side Effects is a good book... but since coming off of Dry and Magical Thinking, I had high expectations. Maybe they were too high, because once I started reading PSE, I simply could not muster the desire to finish the book. Some books I could say "I just couldn't put it down!" but with this book, I would day "I just couldn't pick it up!" There's nothing new here, no great insight, no really amusing stories, in fact they just tend to meander with no real conclusion. This shouldn't be a big surprise though, after all Mr. Burroughs has mined his life so much in his previous books, maybe there's not much left. It reads like he's scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, or that he's coasting. In fact, these stories could easily be rejects from Magical Thinking. Even the book cover, by the usually reliable Chip Kidd, is dull and uninteresting. I will always treasure Dry and Magical Thinking, but this book is nowhere near the quality of those books. It's only my love of those books and my appreciation of Augusten Burroughs that kept me from giving this book 1 star.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2006
i have to say that burroughs is the only author i have ever read that can keep my attention throughout a whole book without getting bored. in my opinion, magical thinking and dry are far better books, however, i love the writing style of burroughs and i love his off the wall humor. i love that he is up front about his overactive mind and imagination. i love the way he is able to translate his ideas to paper. for me there was no stand out story in this collection, but each kept my undivided attention and there were many smiles, laughs, and outbursts throughout the reading. i think he may have mined all there is of his past, so it would be nice to read another fiction novel from him, except it should have characters that match his flare and charisma, and leap off the page with crazy. i still love reading anything he puts out and i still recommend people read everything buy him. i love the way he writes himself a little off course but always with purpose and still arrive where he needs to be. his writing is a welcome departure from a mundane day, and at the same time help someone feel better about themselves because they have not gone through half the trials and tribulations he has.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The pieces in this latest collection by Augusten Burroughs seem to be from various points in his life and reflect his lost childhood, dysfunctional years as an alcoholic creative for an ad agency, and his less than perfect efforts as a person in recovery to figure out how normal people make life decisions and navigate human relationships (and pet ownership). While the pieces (which I want to call "stories") are uneven, all are marked by Burroughs' trademark wit and indifference to political correctness. As with his previous books, his harshest criticisms are directed toward himself. At times this can be draining; sometimes, even creepy (as in "Team Player" where he talks about stealing a Harvard tee shirt from a hotel room, or in "Peep" where he reveals his tendency toward voyeurism). The most hilarious story in this collection is "Mint Threshold" where he describes the nadir of his advertising career, working on the Junior Mint account. The most touching story is "The Forecast for Sommer," about the suicide of one of his mother's proteges. In this story and in some of the other pieces, his mother comes across as more fully human than in RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. She seems to have authentically loved her son and to have believed him to have great potential, something that never comes across in the previously published material. She remains a deeply flawed and tortured individual, but Augusten seems to have more compassion for her plight and a more nuanced understanding of her essence than before. Perhaps this is his way of making amends to her--a sign that he is working his recovery.
One interesting thing to note is the disclaimer that appears at the front of the book (and I guess all post-A-Million-Little-Pieces memoirs will have something similiar): "Some of the events described happened as related; others were expanded and changed. Some of the individuals portrayed are composites of more than one person, and many names and identifying characteristics have been changed as well."