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You Better Not Cry

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I bought this book for three reasons. First, Augusten Burroughs was going to be at the bookstore I was shopping at that night. I wasn't going to be there, but the name and book were everywhere, so I took a look at it. Second, the front cover was hilarious--a man shown from the back wearing a Santa jacket, hat, and boots, but no pants, with the Santa jacket held wide open. He's obviously flashing someone (funny), but not the reader (a relief). Third, the opening line was "It's not that I was an outright nitwit of a child." Sold


That first chapter was in fact hilarious. I laughed so hard that I couldn't breathe and had to read (edited) passages aloud to my 12-year-old son. It was a story from his childhood and the childhood stories were the funniest of the book.


Some of the other stories were less funny. Several were painful and one was unremittingly painful. I think he was trying to show the depths that he fell to before he got sober, some of the challenges he encountered in looking and hoping for and expecting better things out of life, and every now and then, the moments that taught him to look and hope for and expect better things out of life.

The unremittingly painful one was "Ask Again Later," where Burroughs wakes up in bed after having sex with a repulsive Santa Claus. That was definitely a "depths he fell to story." In "Why Do You Reward Me Thus" he has a transcendant moment with a woman named Shirley that appears to begin his transformation. In "The Best and Only Everything," he has really made great strides, but is willing to accept being separated from his then-boyfriend over the holidays because the boyfriend would be with his unaccepting family. That's a common problem with gay people, but he draws a clear picture of the cost to the partner left behind. Your heart really aches for him.



The final story, "Silent Night" shows him at his happiest and best adjusted. He's still not completely normal, but he is a lot better. There are more happy people in his life and he asks for and accepts of help when there is a Christmas disaster. It is the most hopeful story.


I have to wonder how much of this is real--especially the story in "Why Do You Reward Me Thus--but I don't really care whether or not it is. Even if it's not real, it's true. I got more out of this book than I thought I would even if I laughed a lot less than I expected.

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I've read quite a few of Burrough's books, Running with Scissors, Dry,Possible Side Effects, Sellevision and Magical Thinking, and he's a pretty amusing writer. But he bases so much on his own past, or at least claims to, and it's not that his stories don't ring true, but just that the well seems endless. You've got to start wondering how much is true, or how much he is rehashing...or if he can write about anything else.

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    • By Candy1976
      I am currently rereading this book as it made me laugh lots the first time round. I know there are other BGOers out there that have read Burrough's books so it surprises me that I can't find a thread for him - maybe I have just not looked hard enough.
      This book is apparently a sequel to Running with Scissors, but as I haven't read that I only have it as an enjoyable book in its own right. The book tells the story from the time of realisation that he is an alcoholic, through rehab and out the other side, with twists along the way. Even though this book tells of some heart renching realities of life it is done in such a way that my sides feel like they will split at times - hence the reread.
      Sorry all - I have put the surname and forename in the wrong boxes - perhaps a moderator could sort this out for me please.
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