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You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas Hardcover – October 27, 2009
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
t’s not that I was an outright nitwit of a child. IIt’s that the things even a nitwit could do with little or no instruction often confused me. Simple, everyday sorts of things tripped me up. Stacking metal chairs, for example. Everybody in class just seemed to know exactly how to fold the seat up into the back and then nest them all together like Pringles potato chips. I sat on the floor for ten minutes with one of the things as if somebody had told me to just stare at it. Concentrate hard, Augusten, try and turn it into an eggplant with your mind. You can do it! The other children appeared to be born with some sort of innate knowledge, as though the action of folding and stacking child-size metal school chairs was gene tically encoded within each of them, like fi ngernails or a sigmoid colon.
I seemed to lack the ability to comprehend the obvious. From the very beginning there had been warning signs.
Like every kid just starting school, I had to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance—something that would in many towns today be considered prayer and therefore forbidden; akin to forcing a child to drink the blood of a sacrificial goat or unfurl a Tabriz prayer rug and kneel barefoot on it while facing Mecca.
While I managed to learn the words, memorizing isn’t the same as understanding. And of course I was never tested on the meaning of the pledge. It must have simply been taken for granted that even the dimmest child would easily grasp the meaning of a phrase such as I pledge allegiance, especially when that phrase was spoken while standing at strict attention and facing the American flag, hand in a salute above the heart. There was so little room for misinterpretation. It was the Pledge of Allegiance, not Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Still. If one of the teachers had asked me to explain the meaning of those words—which I chanted parrot- minded and smiling each morning—they certainly would have been shocked to hear me admit that while I didn’t know exactly what it was about, I knew it had something to do with Pledge, the same furniture polish my mother used and that always, inexplicably, made me feel sunny. So each morning as I spoke those hallowed words, it was the bright yellow can with the glowing lemony scent that I pictured.
Copyright © 2009 by Island Road, LLC.
Published in November 2009 by St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction
is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or
medium must be secured from the Publisher.
“In his trademark wit and self-deprecating humor . . . Burroughs compiles his favorite Christmas memories. From gnawing the face off of a life-size wax Santa to waking up beside a naked real-life Saint Nick at the Waldorf Astoria, Burroughs spares no details describing why Christmas has always been his favorite holiday.” ―Vanity Fair
“For those who like their holiday spirit with gallons of vodka and a heaping portion of irreverence, You Better Not Cry is at times a laugh-out-loud read. . . . Burroughs is as frank and revealing as ever. . . . Fans won't be disappointed.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Burroughs succeeds best at evoking true holiday spirit, reminding us that whatever's left after the bulbs stop twinkling, the cookies are all eaten, and the trees lose their tinsel is what's most important.” ―Elle
“Terribly funny, in his tragically honest style . . . You may not cry, but you'll definitely laugh.” ―The Miami Herald--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
That's my biggest problem with the book. It's just TOO short.
That said, it's an entertaining read. The book progresses chronologically through Augusten's past. The stories of his childhood are generally quite funny. Generally speaking, I actually like stories of his adult life better than stories of his childhood (i.e. I like "Dry" and "Magical Thinking" even more than "Running With Scissors"). This also holds true with "You Better Not Cry". My favorite stories in the book are of his adult life. My favorite story in the book is "Silent Night." This heart-warming little tale makes me really sad that Augusten and Dennis are no longer together.
I found his story titled, "The Best and Only Everything" terribly sad and it's the longest story in the book. But there are amusing stories, too. I really enjoyed the title story, "You Better Not Cry."
All in all, it's a worthwhile read. And with Amazon's discounted price, I'm glad I bought it. I just wish it were longer! Keep writing, Augusten. I just can't get enough of your words!
The book is not helped by Burroughs' reading of his work for the CD. He apparently attended the School of Pretentious Acting to prepare for this audio book. He does a great job reading his earlier works, and I still enjoy them and marvel at what a good writer he is. This collection, however, along with "A Wolf at the Table", is so overly emoted and annoyingly smug that it undermines any good writing that may have snuck through his catty attitude.
I advise any person new to Burroughs to avoid this work. I highly recommend "Running with Scissors", "Dry", "Magical Thinking", and "Possible Side-Effects". "Wolf at the Table" and this collection are not his best, and especially stay away from the audio editions. If you are already a fan, just know that these stories are a major disappointment.
This book is, of course, Christmas themed. More importantly, it doesn't disappoint from his previous work. There's the complete laugh-out-loud pee-your-pants stories. But there's also a lot of introspective and real-life stories that show a side of Augusten that warms my heart.
This was actually my second favorite book from this author, my favorite being Dry. Both because of how he opens his heart and life to the readers but also because he truly knows how to make me laugh. His humor is not for everyone (a few of members disliked it - a lot), it's very wry and more than a little dark.
The stories all wonderful in their own way.
Highly recommended for fans of humorous memoirs or those that can "get" that humor that is Augusten Burroughs.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A short compilation of Christmas themed stories from Augusten Burroughs. Cute and funny.Published 2 months ago by Nancy A
This book is SUPER funny, as all of Burroughs's books are. I loved every moment of it and found myself laughing out loud throughout the book.Published 6 months ago by Val KD
Not Burroughs' best work, but because I like him so much, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.Published 6 months ago by Scott J. Hamilton
I'm a sucker for anything written by Augusten Burroughs...I used to take an Augusten book with me every time I had to fly somewhere, which I have learned to no longer do, because... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Molly
One of my favorite holiday reads. I think there are about 8 short stories I read one every night 8 days before Christmas. Read morePublished 7 months ago by stephanie