Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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"Dry", Augusten Burroughs

June 4th, 2009 · No Comments · Literature

drySynopsis: Having escaped from a childhood in which his mother adopted him out to her cult leader/psychologist, was repeatedly raped by a fellow patient/cult member and developed a passion for hairdressing, Burroughs’ autobiography continues in Dry with the tale of his adult descent into a life as a high paid, alcoholic advertising executive. Who would have thought that someone with Burroughs’  childhood would be driven to drink?

My Take: I really love Augusten Burroughs. His genius is that he is able to write with both black humour and caustic wit, whilst managing to stay well clear of both bitterness  and cynicism. The effect of this is that despite the horrific content matter of his books, Burroughs makes the reader feel like a guest at a dinner party who is being invited to laugh along with a charismatic host’s witty, but inappropriate, anecdotes. A highly entertaining position.

In my mind however, ‘Dry’ is a cut above Burroughs’ other books. While ‘Dry’ still delivers the obscene erudition one expects of him, Burroughs manages to couple this with a genuinely touching storyline. Surprisingly, the emotional core of this book is almost totally unrelated to Burroughs’ battle with alcoholism (as frank and insightful as it is). It would be easy to detract from the emotional punch of this storyline by foreshadowing too much of it so I won’t go into detail, but I can honestly say that I got a bit teary at times during this book. Quirkily insightful.


“[My apartment is] filled with empty Dewar’s bottles, hundreds of empty Dewar’s bottles. They cover all surfaces; the counters in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator. They are under the table I use as a desk, dozens of them there, with a small clearing for my feet… And then I see them: fruit flies, hovering at the mouths of the bottles. They form dark clouds at the ceiling above the kitchen sink. And dead fruit flies cover everything, like dust.”


“I hate feelings. Why does sobriety have to come with feelings?”


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