This Is How by Augusten Burroughs
I found this book in the humor section of the library, right next to Dave Barry. This made sense to me, as Augusten Burroughs can be very funny, and the subtitle of the book was “Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More.” (Yes, without the Oxford comma, which irritates me, but I’m a nerd.) When I went to look it up on Amazon to write the review, I saw that the hardcover is apparently out of print, and the paperback’s new subtitle is “Surviving What You Think You Can’t,” which is decidedly less funny and interesting, although perhaps more descriptive. I don’t think it should have been Dewey Decimaled where it was, but a) no one asked me and b) if it weren’t, I probably wouldn’t have read it.
The book started out very funny, and then got less so as it went on. This is sort of a self-help book, sort of a memoir, sort of a philosophical diatribe about modern therapy and touchy-feeliness. Burroughs, who wrote the more famous Running with Scissors: A Memoir, had a pretty messed up childhood and struggled with alcoholism and watched his partner die of disease. So he’s been through the ringer and speaks from experience. I can’t say I agree with everything he said: he seems unable to understand that what works for him might not work for everyone. His philosophy seems to be an in-your-face realism. Get to the inner truth. It is, when it comes down to it, all about “just saying no.” You can agree with this or not, but the fact that he actually lived through all this mess (his description of suicidal fantasies are part mesmerizing, part terrifying, part philosophical, and part funny – yes, funny) gives him more credibility than, say, I would have. There is a distinct lack of self-pity, which is good, because the subject matter could easily devolve into a whine-fest. Plus, it is well written, which is always a plus in my book.
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Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. The hard copy of the book can be found on Amazon & BarnesandNoble.com and select local retailers. The e-book can be found here. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.