You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas

You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas

3.5 101
by Augusten Burroughs

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"You've eaten too much candy at Christmas ... but have you ever eaten the face off a six-footstuffed Santa? You've seen gingerbread houses ... but have you ever made your own gingerbread tenement? You've woken up with a hangover ... but have you ever woken up next to Kris Kringle himself? Augusten Burroughs has, and in this caustically funny, nostalgic, poignant,

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"You've eaten too much candy at Christmas ... but have you ever eaten the face off a six-footstuffed Santa? You've seen gingerbread houses ... but have you ever made your own gingerbread tenement? You've woken up with a hangover ... but have you ever woken up next to Kris Kringle himself? Augusten Burroughs has, and in this caustically funny, nostalgic, poignant, and moving collection he recounts Christmases past and present - as only he can." Augusten reveals how the holidays bring out the worst in us and sometimes, just sometimes, the very, very best.

Editorial Reviews

The Santa flasher on the cover is only the first full frontal surprise in Augusten Burroughs's book. The man who went Running with Scissors is back with an equally reckless batch of memories, monologues, and hangover aftermaths. True to the subtitle, most of these tales of personal excess concern the holidays, when everything goes woefully and ridiculously wrong when you want it to go right.
Publishers Weekly
With hilarious, heart-warming, and emotional Yule-tide tales, Burroughs revisits his childhood Christmases that seemed to bring out the best and worst in his family and friends. Burroughs reads with such ease and candor he seems more old friend than narrator. With his crisp diction, smooth delivery, and relentlessly funny material, Burroughs could easily have a new career as a performer, but for now, listeners can give thanks for this early Christmas present. A St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, Jul. 13). (Nov.)
Library Journal
The popular Burroughs (Running with Scissors; A Wolf at the Table) returns with a collection of seven short stories tied together by the Christmas season that ring with his signature dark comedic style. Although they're entertaining, the stories may cause one to question how true some of them are. Beginning with childhood recollections and then moving into adulthood, he displays his own brand of sentimental attachment to elements of the holiday, such as Christmas trees and lights. (Readers not familiar with Burroughs should be warned that religion is not the focus here.) The final two stories, which discuss his relationships with significant men in his life, provide more depth than the mainly comic and rather superficial early pieces. In fact, "Silent Night," the final story, carries a sharp tone of honesty as his desire for normalcy in a chaotic life becomes evident. VERDICT Even though some readers may find the writing grotesque and offensive, Burroughs's fame and following cannot be denied. Those who enjoyed his previous memoirs are likely anticipating this release. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/09.]—Stacy Russo, Chapman Univ. Libs., Orange, CA
Kirkus Reviews
The high priest of mortifying disaster serves up a fine selection of cringe-inducing yuletide fiascos. Burroughs (A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father, 2008, etc.) begins this gathering of Christmas nightmares with his confusion about Santa and Jesus, who he assumed were the same entity. "I could identify Coke or Pepsi with just one sip," he writes, "but I could not tell you for sure why they strapped Santa to a cross. Had he missed a house?" His "brief and entirely baffling period of Sunday school" failed to clarify the issue, especially since Burroughs spent most of that time eating the lead paint flecks off the aging metal toys. One Christmas, his grandparents brought him a life-sized Santa. He was so attracted to it that his innocent kisses accelerated into him eating Santa's wax face. "Even from across the room I could see the carnage that was Santa's face. I'd disfigured him, hideously," he writes. "I felt sure that even Jesus, with his love for the maimed, would turn away." Burroughs also recounts some of the vibrant repartee he shared with his mother and father after yet another failed Christmas: "You are officially free to kill each other!" he grants his warring parents. "Well, well," replies his mother. "Bravo, you hateful spoiled thing." Eventually the author's tone shows signs of empathy, a humanism toward the folks with whom he shares the mornings-after: the "Santa" he awakens next to one blackout dawn, with a "doughy body" and "small, World War II-era erection"; the street woman with whom he shares a city bench, who, when she sang, "filled the space between the flakes of falling snow and packed the air with beauty."Another winner from a master of comic timing andpoignant reflection. First printing of 500,000
From the Publisher

“In his trademark wit and self-deprecating humor . . . Burroughs compiles his favorite Christmas memories. From gnawing the face off of a life-size wax Santa to waking up beside a naked real-life Saint Nick at the Waldorf Astoria, Burroughs spares no details describing why Christmas has always been his favorite holiday.” —Vanity Fair

“For those who like their holiday spirit with gallons of vodka and a heaping portion of irreverence, You Better Not Cry is at times a laugh-out-loud read. . . . Burroughs is as frank and revealing as ever. . . . Fans won't be disappointed.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Burroughs succeeds best at evoking true holiday spirit, reminding us that whatever's left after the bulbs stop twinkling, the cookies are all eaten, and the trees lose their tinsel is what's most important.” —Elle

“Terribly funny, in his tragically honest style . . . You may not cry, but you'll definitely laugh.” —The Miami Herald

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

You Better Not Cry

t’s not that I was an outright nitwit of a child. IIt’s that the things even a nitwit could do with little or no instruction often confused me. Simple, everyday sorts of things tripped me up. Stacking metal chairs, for example. Everybody in class just seemed to know exactly how to fold the seat up into the back and then nest them all together like Pringles potato chips. I sat on the floor for ten minutes with one of the things as if somebody had told me to just stare at it. Concentrate hard, Augusten, try and turn it into an eggplant with your mind. You can do it! The other children appeared to be born with some sort of innate knowledge, as though the action of folding and stacking child-size metal school chairs was gene tically encoded within each of them, like fi ngernails or a sigmoid colon.

I seemed to lack the ability to comprehend the obvious. From the very beginning there had been warning signs.

Like every kid just starting school, I had to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance—something that would in many towns today be considered prayer and therefore forbidden; akin to forcing a child to drink the blood of a sacrificial goat or unfurl a Tabriz prayer rug and kneel barefoot on it while facing Mecca.

While I managed to learn the words, memorizing isn’t the same as understanding. And of course I was never tested on the meaning of the pledge. It must have simply been taken for granted that even the dimmest child would easily grasp the meaning of a phrase such as I pledge allegiance, especially when that phrase was spoken while standing at strict attention and facing the American flag, hand in a salute above the heart. There was so little room for misinterpretation. It was the Pledge of Allegiance, not Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Still. If one of the teachers had asked me to explain the meaning of those words—which I chanted parrot- minded and smiling each morning—they certainly would have been shocked to hear me admit that while I didn’t know exactly what it was about, I knew it had something to do with Pledge, the same furniture polish my mother used and that always, inexplicably, made me feel sunny. So each morning as I spoke those hallowed words, it was the bright yellow can with the glowing lemony scent that I pictured.

Excerpted from You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs.

Copyright © 2009 by Island Road, LLC.

Published in November 2009 by St. Martin's Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction

is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or

medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Meet the Author

Augusten Burroughs is the author of Running with Scissors, Dry, Magical Thinking: True Stories, Possible Side Effects, and A Wolf at the Table. He is also the author of the novel Sellevision, which is currently in development for film. The film version of Running with Scissors, directed by Ryan Murphy and produced by Brad Pitt, was released in October 2006 and starred Joseph Cross, Brian Cox, Annette Bening (nominated for a Golden Globe for her role), Alec Baldwin and Evan Rachel Wood. Augusten's writing has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers around the world including The New York Times and New York Magazine. In 2005 Entertainment Weekly named him one of "The 25 Funniest People in America." He resides in New York City and Western Massachusetts.

Brief Biography

New York, New York and western Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
October 23, 1965
Place of Birth:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
No formal education beyond elementary school

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You Better Not Cry 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
SetiAnkh More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Augusten Burroughs, but his most recent book 'You Better Not Cry' isn't his best work. The first half of the book was what I expected, funny yet sad and touching stories of Christmases past in which Burroughs details in his usual humorous fashion, the goings on in his dysfunctional family and early adult life. But, the second half of the book has very little humor to it, and is really just a sad account of difficult Christmases during his adult life and his reflections on the direction his life has taken. I am a fan of Burroughs because he lays out the ugly truth of his dysfunctional family, but does it in a humorous and entertaining way that keeps you engaged in his story. But, in reflecting on Christmases past it seems that Burroughs has become a bit more melancholy than normal. I would still recommend this book to fans of Burroughs work, but not as a book of funny or entertaining Christmas stories.
Wanderluster More than 1 year ago
I LOVE Augusten Burroughs, and I'm only giving this book three stars because his other books are so particularly stellar, and this one pales slightly in comparison. Also, if you haven't read him before, I wouldn't start with this one. It helps to know a little about his back story. I felt that the stories in this one were just slightly too disjointed and didn't flow as seamlessly as they could have. However, all of that said, it is still a poignant and funny book, great for anyone who flinches at the thought of more saccharine holiday fare. I especially enjoyed his account of a Christmas spent with New York City's...domicile-challenged. And his memories of his extreme yuletide enthusiasm as a child are fantastic. All in all, it's not his best work, but it is a fun and easy read for the holidays.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was funny and light at the beginning as Burroughs recalled his childhood and young adult memories, but as the book progresses it becomes more and more touching. Burroughs perfectly captured the inspirational and heart-warming qualities so often associated with Christmas. In short: the shocking, dark humor that Burroughs is famous for is present, but the more serious, thoughtful side is present as well.
fitz12383 More than 1 year ago
Burroughs is back, this time with a Christmas memoir. I first discovered Burroughs about 3 years ago and read every book he had written to date in one month. My friend and I both fell in love with him during the same summer. He is so irreverent and brutally honest. I wrote down pages and pages of quotations as I read Dry and Magical Thinking. Needless to say, I practically peed on myself when I found out he was coming out with another book. The memoir starts out rocky for me.Arranged chronologically, his first two or three stories are funny, but not overly so, and something about the first story made me downright uncomfortable. There were great moments, though. Burroughs goes into great detail of his long battle of alcoholism in his memoir Dry, and "Why do you reward me thus" features a Christmas when he goes on a drinking binge and literally wakes up huddled between two honest-to-goodness homeless bums. Or how about waking up next to a fat and dirty Santa in "Ask again later." Where Burroughs truly shines is when he is talking about his relationships with George and Dennis. His writing that at times can be crude and completely in your face is immediately tender when talking about those he has loved in the collection's last two stories, "The Best and Only Everything" and "Silent Night." Fans of the irreverent memoir or of Augusten's earlier work will appreciate most of the stories in the collection, especially the last two.
jb70 More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, but it never quite grabbed me. I've heard a lot of people talk about how funny Burroughs's books are and thought I would give one a try. Perhaps I picked the wrong one to start with, but I did not find it as funny as some of the reviews I saw published rated it. To be honest a lot of it seemed more sad than funny. I realize he was trying to add humor to tough times he dealt with at Christmas, but waking up in a hotel room with a stranger who looked and dressed as Santa was scary to me, not funny. I did enjoy the movie "Running with Scissors" so maybe I should have started with that one instead. I most enjoyed when he got to know the homeless people who spent time on his street and saw that homelessness can happen to anyone depending on circumstances and drug use. I was glad to see that he stopped drinking since many of the unfortunate situations he found himself in were a result of overindulgence. It could just be that this type of humor is not for me.
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ChristinaDLC More than 1 year ago
This book is laugh out loud hilarious. This is the perfect addition to my home library. This book is fun enough to read during Christmas or during the summer. Get it, read it then be prepared to wipe your tears.
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I like the writer. I liked the book.
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sru More than 1 year ago
I did not cry when I read this around the holidays in 2010. I was looking for something not to heavy and most definitely funny. I wasn't disappointed during the first short story. However, after that the book went kind of to the dark side a little too much for me. It was not so bad that I put it down.I wound up reading the rest out of curiosity. All in all I give a 3 out of 5.
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