Amazon Significant Seven, April 2008
: When I started reading A Wolf at the Table
, I thought I knew what to expect. Augusten Burroughs captures intense experience with an inexplicably cool remove, imparting a stillness and purity to emotions that would likely run amok in anyone else's hands. I love this quality of his writing, and it's present in full force in this memoir of a childhood spent in thrall to a predatory and deeply unpredictable father. What I wasn't prepared for was the suspense--the dread-filled, nearly sonorous waiting for the worst to happen. An artful sort of bait-and-switch happens in the telling: Burroughs brings you to the brink of a terrible catharsis more than once, but the break in tension never comes. It is profoundly sad, remarkably tender, and fueled by a sense of love and reverence that only a child knows. --Anne Bartholomew
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A searing, emotional portrait of a son who wants nothing more than the love his father will not grant him, Burroughs's latest memoir (after 2004's Dry
) is indeed powerful. Absent is the wry humor of Running with Scissors
and the absurd poignancy of Burroughs's years living with his mother's Svengali-like psychiatrist. Instead, Burroughs focuses on the years he lived both in awe and fear of his philosophy professor father in Amherst, Mass. Despite frequent trips with his mother to escape his father's alcoholic rages, Burroughs was determined to win his father's affection, secretly touching the man's wallet and cigarettes and even going so far as to make a surrogate dad with pillows and discarded clothing. Only after his father's neglect—or cruelty—leads to the death of Burroughs's beloved guinea pig during one of the family's many separations does the son turn against the father. Avoiding self-pity, Burroughs paints his father with unwavering honesty, forcing the reader to confront, as he did, a man who even on his deathbed, refused his son a hint of affection. His father missed so much, Burroughs muses, not knowing his son. Luckily, Burroughs does not deny the reader such an enormous pleasure. (Apr.)
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