Augusten Burroughs’s truth is undoubtedly stranger than most people’s fiction, and few writers ride the line between tragedy and comedy so gracefully. In his bestselling books Magical Thinking, Dry, and Running With Scissors, Burroughs recounts such potentially devastating experiences as being dumped into the foster care of a quack psychiatrist by his mentally unstable mother, battling drug and alcohol addiction, and losing a close friend (who was also a former lover) to AIDS. He does it all with unflinching honesty, keen insight, and heartbreaking hilarity. Although it would be easy for anyone who has been through so much to succumb to self-pity, Burroughs never does, and his dry wit and appreciation of the absurd are unparalleled (David Sedaris is a close second). Aside from the therapeutic rewards of his introspection, his work has also paid off in other ways—both Running With Scissors and Sellevision (his only novel) are being made into movies. He claims to hate doing readings, though, so it’s surprising that he’s throwing himself onstage for this live performance. But he really has nothing to worry about—he’s naturally entertaining and incredibly charismatic.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 5, 2005