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Magical Thinking: True Stories Hardcover – October 5, 2004
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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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Top customer reviews
He’s brutally honest about his failings, and doesn’t mind sharing embarrassing moments. If you decide to read this collection skip over the one about how he killed a little white mouse in his bathtub.
The author at times seems to have the sensibilities of a serial killer. The next time I buy one of his books, it goes on the fictional shelf.
I just cannot even put into words how much A.B. can make me laugh and cry and enjoy every wild moment. I am doing this review a huge disservice in fact , but if you like quirky true stories like I do, consider reading this one!
As with all his books, if you just read the titles of the chapters you can almost know you are in for a wild and hilarious ride!
My favorite one of all, I'd have to say (because it brings to light so much about myself; I mentally traded places with him here & I just know, I would have had similar results) is the Mouse in the Bathtub scene......awful/hilarious/must read to appreciate !!!
Yes he includes sometimes gory details and/or sexual exploits but not in a way I can't handle. I am a straight middle aged female; Augusten's life is so different than my own and I appreciate the chance to come along for an E-ride with him.
Though he is a gay male, you'd think we don't have anything in common but like the mouse in the tub, I see that we have tons in common on how we think and deal with things.
smooth purchase and transaction!
liked "Dry" slightly better than that. Perhaps "the third time is the charm," since his latest book provides a better insight into his personality, including his mindset when writing those last two works.
"Magical Thinking" (named after a psychological profile in which one attributes to one's actions something which they could not have anything to do with ... such as believing that one can *will* bad or good things to happen to someone.) is actually a collection of 29 brief (averaging less than 8 pages) musings by the author, some of which had previously appeared on Salon.com. The author comes across as a gay, slightly psychotic Dave Barry in some, satirically looking at consumer resistence to advertising, design-it-yourself custom homes, getting revenge at telemarketers, and a few other topics. In others, the more-than-slightly-off-center author's voice comes through, in talking about his envy of transexuals, having sex with
several priests, studying to be a model, gay men's devotion to
steroids, and various "boyfriend from hell" stories. He also
provides some additional insight into his childhood, his motivation to write the earlier two novels as well as his first book (Sellevision), and openly discusses his relationship with a slightly older man he sometimes affectiionately calls "The Schnauzer." They are generally amusing and well-written, but the random nature of the stories makes the book seem rather disjointed in total, and unlikely to be anywhere near as successful as his last two attempts. However, if his earlier books did arouse your curiousity to know more about this rather unique individual, you may (as I did) find this volume useful for that purpose. I may even go back and read his "Sellevision".