Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs

Alright. I have to steady myself to write this, which for me means beginning paragraphs with useless expletives. My mind feels like mush. This book has rendered me incapable of independent thought. I’m not entirely sure how it’s accomplished this. But anyway.

I hope everyone reading this had an awesome holiday, even though it’s actually been less than a week since the last time I updated this, and that was actually after Christmas, but then I didn’t wish anybody anything so I’ll say it now. Especially with people being forced back to school and such. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday that will help you get through the next long months. I had an awesome Christmas, and the thought of going back to school makes me want to weep.

My hope was that my books would arrive from the library last week, so to fill that time I was catching up on some online reading that I’ve been neglecting in favor of books. Fanfictions are my guilty pleasure, though I’ve mostly gotten over how dorky I look mentioning it to very literary folk. Some fanfiction writers are actually incredibly skilled, and if they would just change some names, they could absolutely get published. This is what I would do if I were a very skilled fanfiction writer. Only they would have to get it published as erotica.

Guilty pleasure, like I said.

However, after 150,000 words of fanfiction (I have no idea how many pages that is), my books had still not arrived and I was missing the sensation of paper, the sweet susurration of the flipping pages, and my eyes were tired of the wall of text that represents a fanfiction. So I skipped on ahead and began the next book in my pile, which has actually been in my pile, neglected, for about a month now.

Okay, first of all I feel like I should warn that this book is absolutely not family friendly, but the review should be. Still, if that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, you can pass this one up entirely. I won’t feel insulted. This book is not for everyone.

Magical Thinking is basically a memoir told in excerpts of the life of Augusten Burroughs. It is darkly humorous and disturbed. I actually chose to read it because I first heard a quote taken from it, which I liked quite a lot: “I like flaws, and am more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” I read that on a tattoo, googled it, and recognized the cover as a book I’d seen lying around my dad’s house, and borrowed it.

I’m really not sure what I was expecting out of this book. I was hoping to like it, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Really, I loved this book. I read it in three days, and that was forcing myself to slow down. The short-story style of writing made it incredibly easy to advance through. His style of writing is something like, “Well, this wasn’t funny at the time, but if you want to laugh at it, that’s okay.” I don’t think any of it was, for me, ‘laugh out loud’ funny, but it was definitely amusing. The places that had me smiling or laughing (if it happened) were mostly because of how he chose to word this event or that to make it sound more ridiculous.

Have you ever read a David Sedaris book? Augusten Burroughs is a lot like him, only much darker. I actually realized this comparison very early in and had trouble articulating the difference between them when talking to my sister about how much I loved this book. You see, I’ve read two or three David Sedaris books (one I listened to on audiobook between Maine and New York, both ways), but it’s been a while. His books were laugh-out-loud funny. He wrote about situations that you can’t stop reading about, but would never want to experience yourself, and that’s just what Augusten Burroughs does. Only his situations are way darker, and you come out feeling sort of sorry for him. He has a lot more issues than David Sedaris.

The thing that makes these books so fascinating is that it really seems like he’s not hiding anything, but he’s at least half-crazy. And he’s going through it all with this startling clarity of having it in the past, having been through it. He’s a very good writer, that is, he definitely knows his way around language. It’s part of what makes it so compelling. He could tell these stories in a much more straight forward way, but he colors them with this fantastic language. And it’s not even just using pretentiously long words. It actually feels like he writes exactly as it comes to his head, which, after the editing process and everything that happens, may or may not be true. But there’s just a very fascinating voice behind his writing which I absolutely could not resist.

But. But. I’ll warn you again. He does talk blatantly about every single one of his issues. He writes two stories about his fascination with transsexuals, a few about his misadventures in the world of gay romance, and then about half of the book is filled with more domestic stories of his life with his boyfriend where he talks a lot about dealing with residual issues from his childhood traumas, interrupted by one funny chapter describing what it’s like to be famous.

I’m tempted to read his other memoir, Running with Scissors, which would be even darker and I might not actually be able to write a review of it. I know the premise. Google it if you’re interested. But I would like to read it at some point, and I just checked my local library’s online catalogue, and they have it.

Anyway, for now, I’ve got two books in my pile. I got B&N gift cards for Christmas, and I used them to buy four books- three books I love but don’t own, and one I have yet to read, by one of my favorite authoresses. So I’ve got that, and another in my pile that my dad bought me, which is quite a short book and should not take very long to read.

I really enjoyed this week. There was a lot of reading. Chocolate. Tumbling. I really don’t want to go back to school. It’s almost back to where it was last week, where the very thought of school just made me feel like melting from the inside out. I hate school more than the average teenager. But anyway.

On a side note: WordPress has a very odd spellchecker. It didn’t recognize ‘susurration’ or ‘catalogue,’ but it recognized ‘authoresses,’ which is a word I thought I made up because I never hear it spoken in conversation to refer to a lady author.

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  
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