Augusten Burroughs, Author . St Martin's $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-28370-4

"Bookman gave me attention. We would go for long walks and talk about all sorts of things. Like how awful the nuns were in his Catholic school when he was a kid and how you have to roll your lips over your teeth when you give a blowjob," writes Burroughs (Sellevision) about his affair, at age 13, with the 33-year-old son of his mother's psychiatrist. That his mother sent him to live with her shrink (who felt that the affair was good therapy for Burroughs) shows that this is not just another 1980s coming-of-age story. The son of a poet with a "wild mental imbalance" and a professor with a "pitch-black dark side," Burroughs is sent to live with Dr. Finch when his parents separate and his mother comes out as a lesbian. While life in the Finch household is often overwhelming (the doctor talks about masturbating to photos of Golda Meir while his wife rages about his adulterous behavior), Burroughs learns "your life [is] your own and no adult should be allowed to shape it for you." There are wonderful moments of paradoxical humor—Burroughs, who accepts his homosexuality as a teen, rejects the squeaky-clean pop icon Anita Bryant because she was "tacky and classless"—as well as some horrifying moments, as when one of Finch's daughters has a semi-breakdown and thinks that her cat has come back from the dead. Beautifully written with a finely tuned sense of style and wit—the occasional cliché ("Life would be fabric-softener, tuna-salad-on-white, PTA-meeting normal") stands out anomalously—this memoir of a nightmarish youth is both compulsively entertaining and tremendously provocative. (July)

Forecast:Although some critics might be thrown by Burroughs's casual acceptance of an adult/child relationship, this could be a hit.

Reviewed on: 06/03/2002
Release date: 07/01/2002
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