If ever you feel guilty about having that extra glass of wine with dinner or heading into work with a hangover headache, all you have to do is read Dry by Augusten Burroughs and you will feel SO much better about that beer belly. Last week, after having a couple of drinks with . . . myself, I crawled into bed with this book and attempted to read about Burroughs' struggle with sobriety. It was a bit difficult to read through my buzz blur, but I managed.
As much as I joke about being an alcoholic, I do, in fact, realize that alcoholism isn't funny. But if anyone can make even the most dire situations seem hilarious, it's Augusten. I feel like I can call him Augusten because we have so much in common. I mean, sure. He's a tall, balding, gay man whose mother gave him to her psychiatrist when he was thirteen but WHATEVER. These are just details. I know that deep down, we are kindred spirits IF ONLY because we both believe we control the world with our minds. Also, he hates babies!
So anyway, on the surface, Augusten has everything going for him. He works in advertising and makes about a million dollars a day (exaggeration), he lives in NYC, he's young, he's handsome, he has no problem getting laid blah blah blah, but what you DON'T know is that he gets completely shitfaced EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. And when I say shitfaced? I don't mean he feels a little hazy the next morning, I mean he's still drunk when he goes to work and everyone knows it because he has enough booze oozing out of his pores to make everyone in his office a martini. And he does this every day. He does it on Saturdays and Arbor Day and on the Lord's Day, but ESPECIALLY on the weekdays. Naturally, his employers have a problem with this behavior (I think he blows off a bunch of meetings and shows up to schmooze an important client smelling like a distillery . . . maybe he also runs through the conference room naked . . . probably not, but YOU DON'T KNOW, DO YOU?), and eventually his boss makes him go to rehab or he's fired. So he's all, "whatever, I'll go to rehab for thirty days and when I come back I'll be able to drink like a normal person," but then he realizes that he's way fucked up as a result of living with a psychotic psychiatrist and his progeny during his childhood (see: Running With Scissors) and he thinks, "hmm, perhaps I SHOULD stop drinking a bottle of scotch every night," which really is a good idea, if only because that can get REALLY expensive. I'm assuming. When he comes home, he realizes what a shit hole his life has become and goes to AA and tells his friend the drunk undertaker (you heard me) that he's DONE drinking and then he meets this really hot guy in one of his addiction groups who is a rich crack addict. And hot. But, you know . . . a crack addict. Did I mention he's hot? Well, he's hot. I'm not going to tell you whether or not Augusten stays sober because that would ruin the ending, wouldn't it? And then you'd be all, "I don't need to read the book because Jennie told me how it ended." Well, fuck you. You get NO MORE INFORMATION.
For some reason, Augusten Burroughs is often compared to David Sedaris. I suppose because they're both hilarious and gay and men. But stop that. I love them both, but Augusten's books are so much darker than David's (I can call him by his first name, too, because we are also kindred spirits). There are moments in Dry when I wanted to put the book in the freezer, because I was getting so sad I was afraid I might have a feeling. I can't remember ever wanting to do that with one of David's books. I CAN, however, remember wanting to put down Me Talk Pretty One Day because I was laughing so hard that the book was shaking all over the place and I couldn't see the words anymore because they were all blurry, but that is . . . irrelevant.
Sometimes I wish that more bad stuff had happened to me, so I could write a deep and touching memoir like this one. Then I think, "Jennie, that is the stupidest thing you've ever said," but really it's not (stay with me) because after all those shitty things happened to Augusten Burroughs, he made SO MUCH money.
What's that you say? He worked really hard to funnel all those shitty experiences into witty and well-crafted memoirs? It wasn't just "ooh, I've had a rough life, POOF, here's some money?" Well, then, LA LA LA, I'M NOT LISTENING.