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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Simply Wonderful Read, June 21, 2003
This review is from: Dry: A Memoir (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. 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
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