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You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas Hardcover – October 27, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

You Better Not Cry
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.
 
Excerpted from You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs.
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.

Review

“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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312341911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312341916
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Keith on December 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed reading Augusten Burroughs books for many years. I was thrilled to learn that he had a new book out. Being a bit of a scrooge myself, I knew this book would not disappoint. It is a compilation of several different essays. I really enjoyed reading the book and it helped pull me into the Christmas spirit.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge fan of all of Augusten's books, but I found this one just a little disappointing. I read "You Better Not Cry" in two days...not because I'm a super speedy reader, but because it's a very short book. The page count is decent, but the size of the book is very tiny so the book is over before you know it.

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!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Burroughs writes once again about his childhood as it pertains to Christmas memories. Unlike his other works, which are often funny and/or poignant, this collection is simply grotesque. The author makes all of his characters, including himself, out to be the most odious people on the planets. The childhood Burroughs comes off as mentally challenged and slightly unsound. He paints an unsympathetic picture of his mother as drugged up and disgusting. There is none of the reflection or humor of his previous writings. Everyone else in his life is either drunk or dim-witted. These stories are a far cry from his thoughful, moving, and humorous memoirs and essays.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Because he makes you feel like like they really are true. But this book is very contrived-feeling, with some stories that because they don't feel like they come from life, just feel offensive. He can really get away with telling us some horrific stuff when it feels like we join him in a journey about life, about being human, about truths. But there are stories in here that are inflicted upon us, about attention seeking lies, about lying gratuitous vulgarity, about false and beautiful icing pretending it's not on a sh*& cupcake. I'm dissappointed. Someone needed money and wrote this piece of crap knowing it would sell because some of us out here are loyal to _Augusten Burroughs_. What a letdown.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My book club always chooses a Christmas themed book for December. It's what we do. We've read everything from warm and heartwarming books like Christmas Jars to the weird and raunchy like Holiday with a Vampire. Someone chose to read this book this year and I was excited as I'm a big Burroughs fan.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be just like his others! Places in the book are witty, interesting, heartfelt...and then there's the other side-dark, sad, and unnnerving. But with all the other books I found this to be right up there in style and character. I enjoyed this small book of about 200 pages. It was quick to read in between the hustle and bustle of the holidays. For a Burrough's fan...this will be enjoyed!
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