Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Take Five: Four Favorite Essays Plus One Never-Been-Seen Essay by Augusten Burroughs

I was bamboozled into reading my first Augusten Burroughs book.

His writing had been compared to David Sedaris'. I was intrigued. When I read Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day, I laughed until I cried. My favorite part is when a group of non-native French speakers are trying to explain, in French, the basic concepts of Easter to a Moroccan Muslim. There's just something HI-larious about people with extremely limited vocabularies trying to define the complex concepts of faith. Honestly, I had to stop reading it because I was laughing and crying so hard.

So, great! Burroughs is like Sedaris, and Sedaris doesn't write fast enough to satisfy me (but, really, who does?), so I'll buy Running with Scissors and enjoy some similar observational humor. But Running with Scissors was like Me Talk Pretty One Day the way the Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is like a Cadbury egg commercial.

While they're not totally unrelated, one is significantly more startling than the other.

How anyone read about Burroughs as a neglected and abused child in Running With Scissors and labeled it "observational humor" OR thought that those episodes would make a funny movie is beyond me.

It's safe to say that the book did not meet my expectations. It did, however, introduce me to Burroughs' writing and make me like him for his own merits. Since that time I've read everything he's published, and since that time, he's occasionally written about easier topics than his own childhood. In those instances, it's apparent why he would be compared to Sedaris. When given the right topics, those are two very funny guys. In fact, the essays in Take Five are some that could handily be compared to Me Talk Pretty One Day.

The opening essay, "Mint Threshold," is an insightful and humorous episode of Burroughs' life in the advertising industry. "Debbie's Requirements" is a laugh-out-loud take on hiring a cleaning lady. (Let's just say the characters from The Help would not be threatened by Debbie's work ethic.) The other three essays are in a similar vein. All in all, Take Five is a fast, fun read that I would recommend to anyone who hasn't already consumed Magical Thinking or Possible Side Effects. (If you have read these, the new essay isn't long enough to justify buying the four reprints unless you just REALLY want to.)

(And, for the love of Cadbury eggs, do not pick up one of his serious books--Dry, Running with Scissors, A Wolf at the Table--expecting to laugh until you cry. They're all great books, but they'll just make you cry.)


As always, I've managed to turn one book review into about seven. Here are the links to all the books I've referenced in this review. Me Talk Pretty One Day, Running With Scissors, Dry, Magical Thinking, Possible Side Effects, A Wolf at the Table.
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