DRY: A Memoir
None of the many readers of Burroughs's mordant memoir debut, Running with Scissors, would doubt that its entertainingly twisted author could manage, by page 41 of his new installment, to check himself into America's frumpiest alcohol rehab facility for gays. Burroughs has a knack for ending up in depraved situations and a vibrant talent for writing about them. Asked to sign reams of legal forms before entering rehab, he notes, "the real Augusten would never stand for this. The real Augusten would say, 'Could I get a Bloody Mary, extra Tabasco... and the check?' " Alas, Burroughs's co-workers are tired of him embarrassing clients by spraying Donna Karan for Men not only around his neck but also on his tongue to mask the tangy miasma of alcohol, and they insist he seek help. Initially repulsed by his recovery program's maudlin language and mind-numbing platitudes, Burroughs eventually makes a steadfast, equally incredulous friend in rehab, finds his own salvation and confidently re-enters society. But when he falls for a wealthy crack addict and his best friend begins to succumb to AIDS, the support he'd enjoyed in rehab begins to crumble. One of the many pleasures of Burroughs's first book was the happy revelation that despite the author's surreal, crueler-than-Dickensian upbringing, he managed to land among a tribe of fellow eccentrics. Burroughs strains here to replicate that zany tone and occasionally indulges in navel-gazing, but readers accustomed to his heady cocktail of fizzy humor and epiphanic poignancy won't be disappointed. Agent, Christopher Schelling. (June)
Forecast:Burroughs is now an NPR commentator and started writing a sex column in Details last month, so his reader base may be expanding. Still, this book lacks the zing of Scissors, and casual fans might not go for it.