Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

2c9fd47333a51211950f6a70670045abLust & Wonder

by Augusten Burroughs

Have I mentioned that Augusten Burroughs was the first author to whom I wrote an actual fan letter?  It’s true.  This was years ago, I think after I read Running With Scissors (or maybe it was Dry; I can’t remember which), and I was so enamored of his writing that I tracked down his email address (which isn’t hard to do, given that most authors have a website with a “Contact” link) and wrote a gushing email to him.  And he actually responded!  So we’re besties now.

Okay, not really.

Anyway, I’ve been a fan of his for quite a while, and am always excited to see another book with his name on it hit the shelves.

Lust & Wonder is another memoir; this one covers a certain period of time in Burroughs’s life after Dry, which recounts his time in rehab for alcoholism.  Lust & Wonder opens with Burroughs falling off the wagon after a prolonged period of sobriety.  What this memoir is mostly about, though, is Burroughs’s misadventures in coupledom.  If you’re at all familiar with Burroughs’s work, then I don’t need to tell you that it is absolutely not sappy or sentimental.  Told with his trademark scorching wit and naked honesty, it does manage to be tender at moments, however.  Burroughs doesn’t pull any punches – he can be mean, but he knows and acknowledges it – and doesn’t defend it.

I really enjoyed this one; it’s not among the best of his work, but it holds its own and is definitely worth reading if you’re a Burroughs fan.  If you’re not yet a fan, I would recommend reading Running With Scissors and Dry first; Lust & Wonder will then make more sense.  The only caveat I would offer is that – like Burroughs’s other work – it contains some pretty graphic stuff and is intended for mature audiences.

This Is How by Augusten Burroughs

517lI+kX1eL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ This Is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t

by Augusten Burroughs

I don’t even know where to start.  I loved this book so much, it’s left me grasping for the words to explain how much I loved it.

First of all, I love Augusten Burroughs.  Ever since I read Running with Scissors many years ago, I’ve loved him.  I quickly followed Running With Scissors with Dry and Magical Thinking and came to love him even more.  He is the very first author I ever wrote a fan letter to (and he responded).  There’s just something about the things he writes about and how he writes – dysfunctional, funny, ironic, devastating, and brutally real and honest.

This Is How is no exception, although it’s not really at all what I expected.  I’m not sure what I expected.  I’m not a fan of self-help books, but coming from Augusten Burroughs I knew this wasn’t going to be your garden-variety self-help book.  I didn’t even buy it looking for help or answers or solutions to anything at all – I just wanted to read another book written by him.

As it turns out, This Is How kind of got under my skin and shook me up, but good.  It is truly a no-holds-barred manual on how to live.  I know that sounds corny, but there it is.  And who the hell is Augusten Burroughs to write a book on how to live?

“I am a complete and total fuckup.  Which is exactly why I am equipped to write this book and tell you how to live.”

With chapters like “How to Feel Sorry For Yourself,” “How to Fail,” “How to End Your Life,” “Why Having it All is Not,” “How to Finish Your Drink,” and “How to Lose Someone You Love,” to name only a few, Burroughs talks about depression, low self-esteem, anger, suicide, alcoholism, abuse, getting over the past, and a myriad of other life topics that, really, touch every single one of us.  At its core, it’s about going on when you think you can’t, and it’s about stripping everything down to its essential truth – in other words, stop bullshitting yourself.

I laughed, I cried, and shook my fists, and I devoured this book, highlighter in hand, in three days.  I finished it feeling changed on some level.  I want everyone I care about to read this.  I am giving a copy to my 18-year old son.

Read it.  Seriously, read it.

You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs

You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs

I’ve loved Augusten Burroughs ever since I opened the first page of Running With Scissors several years ago.  I loved the way he wrote about his terribly dysfunctional life with irreverence, biting humor, and no self-pity or sentimentality.  I loved how he presented himself, warts and all, with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.  After Running With Scissors, I quickly made my way through several of his other books: Dry, Sellevision, and Magical Thinking.  I was inspired to write my very first fan letter to an author by his writing.

That said, You Better Not Cry is not his best work.  A collection of short stories/anecdotes from his life, all in some way pertaining to Christmas memories (from gnawing the face off of a life-sized Santa as a kid and having to go to the ER to have his stomach pumped, to waking up in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel with a naked Santa in bed beside him who regales Burroughs with tales of their romp the night before, to the love of his life – a man dying of AIDS – abandoning him to instead be with his family for the holidays), I found this book rather brittle, as if Augusten Burroughs was trying too hard to be Augusten Burroughs.  Despite the reviews on the back cover promising a “laugh-out-loud” read, I don’t think I even chuckled during the course of this book.  It’s more of a dark, sad read, which I guess is fine if that’s what you’re after.

A disappointment; pass it up unless you’re a die-hard Augusten Burroughs fan.