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Grotesque, charmless stories, not Burroughs' best
on May 22, 2013
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.