Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Magical Thinking

A few weekends ago, I stumbled upon a cheap copy of Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs on CD.  I was so excited about this find!  I've been wanting to read more by Burroughs after reading Running With Scissors, and I love listening to audiobooks on my way to classes.  It only took me a few days of driving around various places to finish the book. 

Here is the Goodreads description:

It's best to know this from the start: Augusten Burroughs is mean. Augusten Burroughs is also outrageously X-rated. If you can get past those two things, Burroughs might just be the most refreshing voice in American books today, and his collection of acerbic essays will have you laughing out loud even while cringing in your seat. Whether he is stepping on the fingers of little children or giving you the blow-by-blow on a very unholy act, Burroughs manages to do it in a way that fills conflicted fans with both horror and glee.

Spanning from the surprisingly Machiavellian portrayal of his role in a Tang commercial at age seven to his more recent foray into dog ownership, Burroughs has what seems to be an endless supply of offbeat life experiences. Much like earlier David Sedaris collections (Barrel Fever or Naked), there are occasional fits and starts in the flow of the writing, but ultimately, Magical Thinking is worth reading (and re-reading). If you're familiar with Burroughs's memoirs, Running with Scissors, and Dry, you may find parts of Magical Thinking repetitive, since these essays bounce around in time between the other two. In fact, in an ideal world, this collection would have come first, as it offers an excellent introduction to Burroughs's fascinating life. --Vicky Griffith

Cover: I think the cover is interesting.  I'm not quite sure what means, though.  At first, it reminded me of a "glass half empty or half full."  Then I noticed that the water being poured into the glass is actually turned back up away from the glass.  This made me think of using "magical thinking" to make the water change direction.

Characters: I'm a huge fan of Augusten Burroughs.  He is direct, honest, and blunt.  I love that he's not afraid of offending others and doesn't censor himself.  While listening to the book, I focused mainly on Augusten's character, but there was another one that stood out for me.  The undertaker.  Perhaps it was the experiences Augusten had with the undertaker that made him so fascinating for me.  I just found him to be intriguing, and honestly, kind of creepy.  And, let's face it.  People are drawn to creepy.

Writing: Magical Thinking was basically a collection of short stories.  I love books formatted in this way.  As mentioned before, Augusten Burroughs is direct and blunt.  Listening to the book made me feel as if I were actually talking with Burroughs, and he was telling me those stories as a friend.  While listening to him talk of finding a mouse in his bathtub and the attempts to kill it, I found myself becoming very anxious.  He was describing it so well that I found myself fearing there would be a mouse in my bathtub.  At one point, he says he may not be able to shower or bathe again and may have to resort to "spongebaths with Evian water."  I, too, found myself contemplating spongebaths because of a fear that a mouse would slip on out of my faucet.

Plot: I had trouble following a specific plot.  For books like this, I don't necessarily know if they have plots.  When an author picks and chooses stories for a collection of memoirs, they may not have a plot in mind.  I can't remember if the stories went in chronological order throughout his life, but for me it didn't matter.  Each chapter was it's own little story in my mind.

Overall: 4/5     I gave the book an overall rating of 4/5.  Yet again, Augusten Burroughs has made me laugh and left me desiring his other books. 

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