December 20, 2013

You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs

I had to specify "Mother Selected" because if my father chose the gifts they would be grossly inappropriate for any era. Last year my stocking was filled with brittle, cellophane wrapped packages of Lance Toast Chee Peanut Butter and Cheese crackers. Then into the toe of the stocking my father had crammed a useless nickel with a bumpy cow on the back of it. Worst of all, he included three unsharpened pencils.
-from You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs

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I picked up this book last year and decided to use it to get into the holiday spirit early this year. Big mistake. This is not a book that will get you holly or jolly, unless you have a particularly dark sense of humor. I was familiar enough with Augusten Burroughs to anticipate that this book of holiday memoirs from Burrough's childhood wouldn't be typical, but overall the stories depressed me and irritated me because I couldn't relate to them at all.

I should have anticipated that I wouldn't love this book after the absolutely bizarre story about 8 year-old Augusten literally eating the face off of a stuffed Santa. It wasn't even funny, just totally bizarre because of how long and detailed the story is told. Some of the stories, like how a young Augusten tried to bake his own gingerbread house (using cooking sherry instead of molasses) or his very specific Christmas list for his parents, are endearing. But overall, the stories of Augusten's Christmases, namely when he slept with a Santa look-a-like, were just depressing and made me feel bad for him. I thought these would be really funny stories most people could relate to about holiday mishaps and silly traditions; but even with my atypical family, I couldn't relate to any of this and think it was probably written to make profit on the Christmas cash cow.

To make things worse, I actually listened to the audiobook for most of this since it was available through my library. Being read by the author, you would think it would be a great thing to listen to. Again, I was terribly wrong. Augusten Burroughs narrates this collection of stories like a second grader learning to read, drawing out simple words and pausing so much that I wanted to bang my head against my steering wheel when I listened during my commute. When he does take off and read a sentence fluidly, the sing-songyness of his voice is extremely irritating. I almost couldn't stand it until I put the audio on double-speed and it got me through the rest of the book.

I will note that Burroughs has a beautiful way of writing even his bizarre stories. His use of language is a true talent and gave me hope that his other books might redeem him from this poor set of sad stories. Maybe this collection of stories is for you, but I definitely found my lump of coal this year.To make things worse, I sent a copy of this book to my TBTB Secret Santa buddy before I had read my copy and now I feel really bad! HA! Sorry, Ashley! ;)

Bottom Line: Skip this one unless you're already a huge fan of Augusten Burroughs or think you have his sense of humor. Read another one of his books if you want to appreciate his writing. 2/5 stars.

1 comment:

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