Arizona Daily Wildcat Online
sections
Front Page
News
Opinions
Sports
Go Wild
Live Culture
Police Beat
Datebook
Comics
Crossword
Special Sections
Photo Spreads
Classifieds
The Wildcat
Letter to the Editor
Wildcat Staff
Search
Archives
Job Openings
Advertising Info
Student Media
Arizona Student Media Info
UATV -
Student TV
 
KAMP -
Student Radio
The Desert Yearbook
Daily Wildcat Staff Alumni

Strange but true


Photo
By Karinya Funsett
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Print this

"Magical Thinking: True Stories" should not be on bookstore shelves as a stand-alone piece of literature. It should instead be sold as volume III in the boxed set of Augusten Burroughs' life. I say this not because it is a bad book, but because if it is read without "Dry" and "Running With Scissors," Burroughs' first two autobiographical books, the reader will feel as if he or she has entered the theater halfway through the movie. Burroughs constantly references incidents and characters from his childhood, and the reader is expected to understand. The book is enjoyable on its own, but is probably more meaningful when combined with some prior knowledge of Burroughs' life.

The book is composed of a number of short "true stories." Some are written up and told as straight anecdotes with a minimum amount of reflection on the part of the author, while other stories serve as catalysts for some serious self-analysis through well-developed personal essays. This format invites the reader to keep turning the pages while also lending itself to being read in a reader's downtime; most of the essays only take a few minutes to read, so the book is easy to pick up at one's leisure. Unlike many essay collections, here there is often no common thread to the pieces other than the presence of the author. Actually, when read together, the essays present the author as a scattered - but likeable - individual who thrives on contradictions.

Read it

7 out of 10

  • Magical Thinking: True Stories
  • Augusten Burroughs
  • Picador

One reason for the scattered feel of the book as a whole is that the essays are not necessarily arranged in chronological order - or if they are, there are often many years separating them. This leads to an essay chronicling the cruel death-by-torture of a mouse Burroughs found in his bachelor-pad bathtub being followed by a thoughtful, tender essay contemplating the author's 10-year relationship with his partner. Other essays discuss the author's former career in advertising, his brother with Asperger's syndrome, his adventures with a controlling midgetesque housekeeper and war stories from the Manhattan dating field. They are occasionally grotesque and shocking, sometimes gentle and loving and almost always extremely entertaining.

Many of them are laugh-out-loud funny, and the fashion in which the funnier stories are told is reminiscent of David Sedaris. Actually, some of the similarities between Burroughs and Sedaris are almost uncanny - both are gay male memoirists, both were afflicted with behavioral ticks and addictive personalities, and both rely heavily on humor to tell the stories of their lives. That said, Sedaris fans, or anyone who is looking for an entertaining, relatively light read, should check out the world of Burroughs. The life he's led provides more than enough material to fill his three books of memoirs, and he's been blessed with writing skills sharp enough to do justice to his stories. "Magical Thinking" makes for a decent read on its own, but to really appreciate it, check out his other two nonfiction books first.



Write a Letter to the Editor
articles
Students reveal family secrets through art
divider
Tucson and campus calendar
divider
Scatter shot
divider
What was Charlize thinking?
divider
Student purse maker is having a ball
divider
You always remember your first time: This is it
divider
Strange but true
divider
Give in and see
divider
2005: A film odyssey
divider
The top 10 (kind of)albums of the year
divider
Commentary: Top celebrity moments of 2005
divider
Top 10 - indie rock '05
divider
Top 10 things to do instead of studying for finals
divider
Restaurant and Bar Guide
Housing Guide
Search for:
advanced search Archives

NEWS | SPORTS | OPINIONS | GO WILD
CLASSIFIEDS | ARCHIVES | CONTACT US | SEARCH



Webmaster - webmaster@wildcat.arizona.edu
Copyright 2005 - The Arizona Daily Wildcat - Arizona Student Media