Burroughs, Augusten. “Possible Side Effects”, Picador, 2006.
The Human Condition
Augusten Burroughs became one of the toasts of the literary world with his first book, “Running with Scissors”. He followed that up with “Dry”, “Magical Thinking” and now “Possible Side Effects” and he keeps getting better. Here is a provocative collection of true stores about his life and he covers everything from being addicted to nicotine gum to dogs with stomach problems and lesbian want-ads. The selections are looks into his own life; the stories are uniquely his with his brand of over-the-top humor. These intimate tales allow us to again look at the background of the man, Burroughs, as he explores the personal, humorous disturbing and dear world that is all his. Burroughs is audacious as he tells his stories in essay format and they are troubling and very, very funny.
It is as if the author gouges himself and bleeds and then writes it all down and makes you laugh. His family is dysfunctional to say the least and if you combine this with his entrance into polite society. You have an explosion that is both wicked and fun. This is a book to be read to enjoy and you need no other reason. The essays are not for the squeamish, he holds nothing back. The style and facility with which Burroughs relates his life is absolutely amazing. His adventures with the tooth fairy will have you laughing aloud as will his take on lesbian personal ads. Burroughs is multi-dimensional—he is a gay alcoholic New York ad man who is also a hypochondriac and a compulsive slob, yet his observations are wonderful. His uniqueness of description pulls you in and doesn’t let you go, book after book. He writes of things that we could all have experienced but not in the way he did. Life’s twists and turns are the meat of the book and Burroughs is the condiments.
Burroughs doesn’t just write memoirs—he goes into every nook and cranny of his life. When he is not breaking your heart, he is making you roar with laughter.
This is a book that must be read to understand why I am raving on so during this review. You won’t soon forget the experience.