Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tragedy was never so funny

I told you I was reading as much as possible. On Sunday, I decided I needed to start a new book, but I wanted something light and funny. I chose Augusten Burroughs Dry, because sobriety is always light and funny. His name might sound familiar because his first book, Running with Scissors was turned into a rather good movie a couple of years ago. I read Running with Scissors, and it was hilarious and the most disturbing book I had ever read, all because these are true books. I will briefly fill you in on the story from Running with Scissors because it plays a very important part in Dry.

Augusten Burroughs' dad was an alcoholic and his mom was a, well, she was crazy. His parents eventually split up and at the age of 12 or so, his mom gives him to her shrink. The shrink believes that after the age of 13, people are adults and can make their own choices, so his kids are allowed to run wild. Augusten doesn't attend school, has access to medication and is raped, and then has a "relationship" with a pedophile who lives out back (Augusten is gay, but it's clear that this sexual relationship did not begin consensually, not to mention that he was 13 at the time and the guy was something like 30). Again, this is a true story. Needless to say, Augusten did not have a typical American childhood.

When he was 18 or 19, he set off for New York city and managed to get a job in advertising. This is where Dry picks up. Dry is about his alcoholism and his fight for sobriety. And after reading with Running with Scissors, I kept thinking, "this guy could be a psychopath, killing and raping, or doing super-duper hard core drugs, or something even worse." He really is quite normal for his upbringing. But it does haunt him. His choice of self-medication is alcohol, but we quickly find out that even though he is in his mid-twenties, he is already in the final stages of alcoholism. He is forced into a 30 day rehab by his job, and while he hates it at first, he eventually realizes it is what's best for him. This is the first part of the book.

The second part of the book begins with his return to New York and the difficulty of staying sober. Add to that the jerk at work who is jealous and leaves alcohol around his office, the incredibly hot crack addict at group therapy who is in love with him, and the fact that his best friend has HIV (and eventually dies).

Despite the grim subject, Burroughs is an amazing writer. I often found myself laughing out loud, and sometimes, crying. I'm pretty sure he's written another book, about him and his dad, and I need to go find it. While I would recommend Dry I would really recommend reading Running with Scissors first. You will feel guilty for enjoying it so much, but Burroughs is such a talented writer that you can't help it.

So here's to Augusten Burroughs. May you find love and happiness. May you stay sober. My you write many more books and may you always remember that you are somebody!

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