Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Augusten Burroughs

Since we're doing Top Ten lists, I just finished reading Augusten Burrough's Running with Scissors. So, from his site, here's a list of ten things you didn't know about him:
1. I can change the spark plugs in a 1972 VW Fastback.
2. I have shot with a Leica rangefinder camera for fifteen years.
3. Lauren Bacall kissed me on the cheek when I was 20.
4. I like early (1600's, 1700's) American furniture.
5. I would like a pet pig but Dennis says, "No."
6. My favorite show is "Car Talk" on NPR.
7. I have seen Orville Redenbacher's penis.
8. I subscribe to Backwoods Home magazine.
9. I am reserved and serious by nature.
10. I drink Blenheim Ginger Ale by the case.
How was the book? Pretty good. Highly entertaining in that craning at the roadside crash sort of way. I didn't find the writing particularly strong or inventive. In fact, at times I thought the opening chapters really smacked of workshop material, and I worried I was going to have to trudge through the effort. Burroughs uses a couple of cutesy repetition devices early on that grate, but, largely, as the book unfolds it gets better, less self-conscious. He certainly does remind me of Sedaris, though he's not as gut-bustingly funny. The similarity lies more in the utter lack of hesitancy to describe the more sordid facets of one's family history in crystalline detail. In fact, considering his incredible upbringing, Burroughs certainly comes out sounding pretty balanced, and the characters he roundly depicts benefit from that truth-is-stranger-than-fiction quality that good creative non-fiction can offer. Good, if not superlative. As a survivor, however, Burroughs seems nothing less than superlative.

Of course, a movie's in the works, starring Brian Cox as Dr. Finch (perfect) and Annette Bening (quite possibly perfect) as Augusten's mother, the deeply troubled poet Deirdre.

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