Augusten Burroughs is also the author of Sellevision, a behind-the-scenes novel about a TV shopping channel. He lives in New York City. He has been an advertising copywriter, a dog trainer and failed as a male model. His website is www.augusten.com.
"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 clich ("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. . Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
As fiction, novelist Burroughs's memoir might not have ascended to best-seller status, but as autobiography it sanctions rubbernecking at the scene of madness and X-rated relationships. The author's coming of age begins at 12 when his divorced mother sends him to live with her psychiatrist (one longs to verify this crackpot's diploma), his wife and children, and a few live-in mental patients. Neither wacky nor beguiling, this unwholesome coven exposes Burroughs to sodomy, child abuse and endangerment, animal cruelty, roaches, filth, and an abundance of feces. Like watching someone else's child running with scissors but being unable to intervene, the listener feels compelled to escort this cheerful child to the safety of the last page. Read by Burroughs, who understands the best placement of inflection and nuance, this work is highly recommended for most libraries.-Judith Robinson, Univ. at Buffalo, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.