cover image Lust and Wonder: A Memoir

Lust and Wonder: A Memoir

Augusten Burroughs. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-34203-6

In this seventh autobiographical work, bestselling author Burroughs describes life after rehab. Back in N.Y.C. as a freelance ad copywriter, Burroughs keeps finding what he thinks must be love, only to discover that he’s missed the target again. Romantic dead-ends intertwine with whirlwind literary success and Burroughs comes to the age-old realization that money and fame don’t buy happiness, especially for someone with anxiety disorders and severe childhood trauma. Struggling in a purgatory of mediocre relationships, Burroughs is sustained by a recurring dream of a handsome blond man driving a Jeep, a dream that becomes reality. Burroughs has been mining his life since 2002, and once-rich veins seem to be exhausted. Though his wit still shines and stings, this effort is troubled by odd gaps and omissions. One example, of several, is the failure to make more of Burroughs’s romance with a man dying of AIDS. Burroughs did cover that relationship (in Dry), but neglects it here, sacrificing coherence to avoid repetition. Potentially fascinating material, such as his debilitating anxiety and a compulsion to buy precious gems (to the point of bankruptcy), is similarly abbreviated. Fourteen years after Running with Scissors, Burroughs seems to be pacing in circles. (Mar.)