Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Magical Thinking
Augusten Burroughs

Another collection of stories based on his real life, Augusten Burroughs writes with his usual dark and brilliant humor. As he is the main character, he satirizes himself.

The collection begins with a story about his effort to achieve stardom at age seven when he was selected to be in a Tang commercial. He wants desperately to be chosen but isn't and is quite devastated about it.

In another segment he tells us about his studying to become a Barbizon model in his teens. It includes frank stories about his dysfunctional family of origin, alcoholism, dating woes, relations with Catholic priests, boredom and frustration as an advertising copywriter, and even his hygiene issues.

One of my favorites in the collection, is a New York story about Burroughs' battle of wills with a domineering cleaning lady. Hilarious.

In "The Rat/Thing" he takes the New York thing to extremes when he reveals what he will do to get rid of a rodent intruder.

He both revels in and criticizes American obsession with celebrity culture and aspirational advertising. The shallowness, especially in gay men, is both scorned and celebrated. The collection ends on a slightly more reassuring note with several stories about a promising sounding relationship with a man named Dennis.

Readers are waiting expectantly for the continuation of his life's saga.

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