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Customer Review

26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confessions of a self-promoting ex-adman, February 21, 2005
This review is from: Magical Thinking: True Stories (Hardcover)
If Augusten Burroughs ever makes a movie or gets to host his own reality TV show he might one day work his way into the center square of a future iteration of Hollywood Squares. He has the wit. He's a clever observer of contemporary mores. Add to this an ample supply of contempt for political correctness and a love for pushing the boundaries of taste. In the "true stories" that make up MAGICAL THINKING he manages to get away with virtual murder because half the time the target of his cutting satire is himself. Arranged somewhat chronologically, these stories read like outtakes from his memoirs RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. The collection begins with a story about his effort to achieve stardom at age seven when he was selected to be in a Tang commercial ("Commercial Break") and includes one about his studying to become a Barbizon model in his teens ("Model Behavior"). It includes frank stories about his dysfunctional family of origin, alcoholism, gayness, dating woes, relations with Catholic priests, boredom and frustration as an advertising copywriter, and even his "hygiene issues." "Debby's Requirements," one of my favorites in the collection, is a New York story about Burroughs' battle of wills with a domineering cleaning lady. In "The Rat/Thing" he takes the New York thing to extremes when he reveals what he will do to get rid of a rodent intruder. It's so extreme you can't help thinking he might be using his little domestic tempest in a teapot to describe something much larger--the obsessive Western mind (e.g., Bush v. Saddam). He both revels in and criticizes American obsession with celebrity culture and aspirational advertising. Shallowness (especially in gay men) is both scorned and celebrated. The collection ends on a slightly more reassuring note with several stories about a still-promising sounding relationship with a man named Dennis. I think we'll have to wait for the next collection of "true stories" to see how that one turns out.
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