From New York Times bestselling author Augusten Burroughs comes a dark and hilarious memoir that takes up where RUNNING WITH SCISSORS left off: the life of a young man with a twisted past trying to wrestle with his own demons.
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About the Author
Augusten Burroughs is the author of Running with Scissors, Magical Thinking: True Stories, Possible Side Effects, A Wolf at the Table and You Better Not Cry. He is also the author of the novel Sellevision. 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. Entertainment Weekly named him one of "The 25 Funniest People in America." He resides in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
By AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS
ST. MARTIN'S PRESSCopyright © 2003 Augusten Burroughs
All right reserved.
Sometimes when you work in advertising you'll get a product that's really garbage and you have to make it seem fantastic, something that is essential to the continued quality of life. Like once, I had to do an ad for hair conditioner. The strategy was: Adds softness you can feel, body you can see. But the thing is, this was a lousy product. It made your hair sticky and in focus groups, women hated it. Also, it reeked. It made your hair smell like a combination of bubble gum and Lysol. But somehow, I had to make people feel that it was the best hair conditioner ever created. I had to give it an image that was both beautiful and sexy. Approachable and yet aspirational.
Advertising makes everything seem better than it actually is. And that's why it's such a perfect career for me. It's an industry based on giving people false expectations. Few people know how to do that as well as I do, because I've been applying those basic advertising principles to my life for years.
When I was thirteen, my crazy mother gave me away to her lunatic psychiatrist, who adopted me. I then lived a life of squalor, pedophiles, no school and free pills. When I finally escaped, I presented myself to advertising agencies as a self-educated, slightly eccentric youth, filled with passion, bursting with ideas. I left out the fact that I didn't know how to spell or that I had been giving blowjobs since I was thirteen.
Not many people get into advertising when they're nineteen, with no education beyond elementary school and no connections. Not just anybody can walk in off the street and become a copywriter and get to sit around the glossy black table saying things like, "Maybe we can get Molly Ringwald to do the voice-over," and "It'll be really hip and MTV-ish." But when I was nineteen, that's exactly what I wanted. And exactly what I got, which made me feel that I could control the world with my mind.
I could not believe that I had landed a job as a junior copywriter on the National Potato Board account at the age of nineteen. For seventeen thousand dollars a year, which was an astonishing fortune compared to the nine thousand I had made two years before as a waiter at a Ground Round.
That's the great thing about advertising. Ad people don't care where you came from, who your parents were. It doesn't matter. You could have a crawl space under your kitchen floor filled with little girls' bones and as long as you can dream up a better Chuck Wagon commercial, you're in.
And now I'm twenty-four years old, and I try not to think about my past. It seems important to think only of my job and my future. Especially since advertising dictates that you're only as good as your last ad. This theme of forward momentum runs through many ad campaigns.
A body in motion tends to stay in motion. (Reebok, Chiat/Day.)
Just do it. (Nike, Weiden and Kennedy.)
Damn it, something isn't right. (Me, to my bathroom mirror at four-thirty in the morning, when I'm really, really plastered.)
It's Tuesday evening and I'm home. I've been home for twenty minutes and am going through the mail. When I open a bill, it freaks me out. For some reason, I have trouble writing checks. I postpone this act until the last possible moment, usually once my account has gone into collection. It's not that I can't afford the bills-I can-it's that I panic when faced with responsibility. I am not used to rules and structure and so I have a hard time keeping the phone connected and the electricity turned on. I place all my bills in a box, which I keep next to the stove. Personal letters and cards get slipped into the space between the computer on my desk and the printer.
My phone rings. I let the machine pick up.
"Hey, it's Jim ... just wanted to know if you wanna go out for a quick drink. Gimme a call, but try and get back-"
As I pick up the machine screeches like a strangled cat. "Yes, definitely," I tell him. "My blood alcohol level is dangerously low."
"Cedar Tavern at nine," he says.
Cedar Tavern is on University and Twelfth and I'm on Tenth and Third, just a few blocks away. Jim's over on Twelfth and Second. So it's a fulcrum between us. That's one reason I like it. The other reason is because their martinis are enormous; great bowls of vodka soup. "See you there," I say and hang up.
Jim is great. He's an undertaker. Actually, I suppose he's technically not an undertaker anymore. He's graduated to coffin salesman, or as he puts it, "pre-arrangements." The funeral business is rife with euphemisms. In the funeral business, nobody actually "dies." They simply "move on," as if traveling to a different time zone.
He wears vintage Hawaiian shirts, even in winter. Looking at him, you'd think he was just a normal, blue-collar Italian guy. Like maybe he's a cop or owns a pizza place. But he's an undertaker, through and through. Last year for my birthday, he gave me two bottles. One was filled with pretty pink lotion, the other with an amber fluid. Permaglow and Restorative: embalming fluids. This is the sort of conversation piece you simply can't find at Pottery Barn. I'm not so shallow as to pick my friends based on what they do for a living, but in this case I have to say it was a major selling point.
A few hours later, I walk into Cedar Tavern and feel immediately at ease. There's a huge old bar to my right, carved by hand a century ago from several ancient oak trees. It's like this great big middle finger aimed at nature conservationists. Behind the bar, the wall is paneled in this same wood, inlaid with tall etched mirrors. Next to the mirrors are dull brass light fixtures with stained-glass shades. No bulb in the place is above twenty-five watts. In the rear, there are nice tall wooden booths and oil paintings of English bird dogs and anonymous grandfathers posed in burgundy leather wing chairs. They serve a kind of food here: chicken-fried steak, fish and chips, cheeseburgers and a very lame salad that features iceberg lettuce and croutons from a box. I could live here. As if I didn't already.
Even though I'm five minutes early, Jim's sitting at the bar and already halfway through a martini.
"What a fucking lush," I say. "How long have you been here?"
"I was thirsty. About a minute."
He appears to be eyeing a woman who is sitting alone at a table near the jukebox. She wears khaki slacks, a pink-and-white striped oxford cloth shirt and white Reeboks. I instantly peg her as an off-duty nurse. "She's not your type," I say.
He gives me this how-the-hell-do-you-know look. "And why not?"
"Look at what she's drinking. Coffee."
He grimaces, looks away from her and takes another sip of his drink.
"Look, I can't stay out late tonight because I have to be at the Met tomorrow morning at nine."
"The Met?" he asks incredulously. "Why the Met?"
I roll my eyes, wag my finger in the air to get the bartender's attention. "My client Fabergé is creating a new perfume and they want the ad agency to join them tomorrow morning and see the Fabergé egg exhibit as inspiration." I order a Ketel One martini, straight up with an olive. They use the tiny green olives here; I like that. I despise the big fat olives. They take up too much space in the glass.
"So I have to be there in a suit and look at those fucking eggs all morning. Then we're all going to get together the day after tomorrow at the agency and have a horrific meeting with their senior management. Some global vision thing. One of those awful meetings you dread for weeks in advance." I take the first sip of my martini. It feels exactly right, like part of my own physiology. "God, I hate my job."
"You should get a real job," Jim tells me. "This advertising stuff is putrid. You spend your days waltzing around the Met looking at Fabergé eggs. You make wads of cash and all you do is complain. Jesus, and you're not even twenty-five yet." He sticks his thumb and index finger in the glass and pinches the olive, which he then pops in his mouth.
I watch him do this and can't help but think, The places those fingers have been.
"Why don't you try selling a seventy-eight-year-old widow in the Bronx her own coffin?"
We've had this conversation before, many times. The undertaker feels superior to me, and actually is. He is society's Janitor in a Drum. He provides a service. I, on the other hand, try to trick and manipulate people into parting with their money, a disservice.
"Yeah, yeah, order us another round. I gotta take a leak." I walk off to the men's room, leaving him at the bar.
We have four more drinks at Cedar Tavern. Maybe five. Just enough so that I feel loose and comfortable in my own skin, like a gymnast. Jim suggests we hit another bar. I check my watch: almost ten-thirty. I should head home now and go to sleep so I'm fresh in the morning. But then I think, Okay, what's the latest I can get to sleep and still be okay? If I have to be there at nine, I should be up by seven-thirty, so that means I should get to bed no later than-I begin to count on my fingers because I cannot do math, let alone in my head-twelve-thirty. "Where you wanna go?" I ask him.
"I don't know, let's just walk."
I say, "Okay," and we head outside. As soon as I step into the fresh air, something in my brain oxidizes and I feel just the slightest bit tipsy. Not drunk, not even close. Though I certainly wouldn't attempt to operate a cotton gin.
We end up walking down the street for two blocks and heading into this place on the corner that sometimes plays live jazz. Jim's telling me that the absolute worst thing you can encounter as an undertaker is "a jumper."
"Two Ketel One martinis, straight up with olives," I tell the bartender and then turn to Jim. "What's so bad about jumpers? What?" I love this man.
"Because when you move their limbs, the bones are all broken and they slide around loose inside the skin and they make this sort of ..." Our drinks arrive. He takes a sip and continues, "... this sort of rumbling sound."
"That's so fucking horrifying," I say, delighted. "What else?"
He takes another sip, creases his forehead in thought. "Okay, I know-you'll love this. If it's a guy, we tie a string around the end of his dick so that it won't leak piss."
"Jesus," I say. We both take a sip from our drinks. I notice that my sip is more of a gulp and I will need another drink soon. The martinis here are shamefully meager. "Okay, give me more horrible," I tell him.
He tells me how once he had a female body with a decapitated head and the family insisted on an open casket service. "Can you imagine?" So he broke a broomstick in half and jammed it down through the neck and into the meat of the torso. Then he stuck the head on the other end of the stick and kind of pushed.
"Wow," I say. He's done things that only people on death row have done.
He smiles with what I think might be pride. "I put her in a white cashmere turtleneck and she actually ended up looking pretty good." He winks at me and plucks the olive from my drink. I do not take another sip from this particular glass.
We have maybe five more drinks before I check my watch again. Now it's a quarter of one. And I really need to go, I'll already be a mess as it is. But that's not what happens. What happens is, Jim orders us a nightcap.
"Just one shot of Cuervo ... for luck."
The very last thing I remember is standing on a stage at a karaoke bar somewhere in the West Village. The spotlights are shining in my face and I'm trying to read the video monitor in front of me, which is scrolling the words to the theme from The Brady Bunch. I see double unless I close one eye, but when I do this I lose my balance and stagger. Jim's laughing like a madman in the front row, pounding the table with his hands.
The floor trips me and I fall. The bartender walks from behind the bar and escorts me offstage. His arm feels good around my shoulders and I want to give him a friendly nuzzle or perhaps a kiss on the mouth. Fortunately, I don't do this.
Outside the bar, I look at my watch and slur, "This can't be right." I lean against Jim's shoulder so I don't fall over on the tricky sidewalk.
"What?" he says, grinning. He has a thin plastic drink straw behind each ear. The straws are red, the ends chewed.
I raise my arm up so my watch is almost pressed against his nose. "Look," I say.
He pushes my arm back so he can read the dial. "Yikes! How'd that happen? You sure it's right?"
The watch reads 4:15 A.M. Impossible. I wonder aloud why it is displaying the time in Europe instead of Manhattan.
I arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at a quarter before nine. Fifteen minutes early. I'm wearing a charcoal gray Armani suit and oxblood red Gucci loafers. My head throbs dully behind my eyes, but this has actually become normal. It usually wears off by the end of the day and is completely gone after the first drink of the evening.
I didn't technically sleep last night, I napped. Even in my drunken stupor of last night, I realized I couldn't show up here this morning looking like a total disaster, so I managed to call 1-800-4-WAKE-UP (You snooze, you lose!) before I laid down on my bed, fully dressed.
I was awake by six A.M. and still felt drunk. I was making wisecracks to myself in the bathroom, pulling faces. This is when I knew I was still drunk. I just had way too much energy for six A.M. Too much motivation. It was like the drunk side of my brain was trying to act distracting and entertaining, so the business side wouldn't realize it was being held hostage by a drunk.
I showered, shaved and slicked my hair back with Bumble and bumble Hair Grooming Creme. Then I ran the blowdryer over my head. Afterward, I arranged my hair in such a way that it appeared casual and carefree. A wisp of hair falling across my forehead, which I froze in place with AquaNet. After having gone on more fashion shoots than I care to count, I've learned that terminally unhip AquaNet is the best. The result was hair that looked windblown and casual-unless you happened to touch it. If you touched it, it would probably make a solid knocking sound, like wood.
I sprayed Donna Karan for Men around my neck and on my tongue to oppose any alcohol breath I might have. Then I walked to the twenty-four-hour restaurant on the corner of Seventeenth and Third for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee. The fat, I figured, would absorb any toxins.
As a backup safety measure, I swallowed a handful of Breath Assure capsules and wore a distracting, loud tie.
Excerpted from DRY by AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS Copyright © 2003 by Augusten Burroughs
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
Reading Group Guide
1. At what point in Augusten Burroughs's memoir do you think the reality of his addiction actually became real to him?
2. Why did he realize how much he loved Pighead only when it was too late?
3. Do you feel addictions were portrayed realistically or not in Dry? Why or why not?
4. Who do you feel was the bravest character in the book?
5. Who do you feel was the most villainous character in the book?
6. Why do people choose inappropriate partners? Why did Augusten in Dry? Did he trade one addiction for another in terms of his choice in men?
7. What are some of the most dangerous behaviors recovering alcoholics can undertake? What are some of these behaviors you saw in Dry?
8. Can you pinpoint the one thing that finally got Augusten to a point where he could really be in recovery? What was it and why?
Mopping Up the Past
I was feeling a little bit high because my new Swiffer Mop was as brilliant in person as it appeared to be in the infomercial. I hitting the little trigger thing on the handle with my finger and watching the cleaning solution stream out with such astonishing precision. I was gliding the mop over the bare wood floor and I was thinking, This is it. Mopping has changed forever. When the phone rang. "Augusten, it's Jennifer," my editor said. She was on a speaker phone, I could tell. You can always tell when somebody is on a speaker phone because you can hear the expectation on the line, you can hear the other people leaning forward, looking at each other. "As of right now, you're a New York Times bestseller."
With these words, she changed my life.
Instantly, I became a person with a happy childhood.
"Are you serious?" I asked her.
She shrieked and then there was more shrieking from the other people on her end.
"Are you sure it's not a mistake?" I asked her. Couldn't The New York Times make a mistake?
"No, it's not a mistake!" she cried.
After I hung up the phone, I stood there for a moment. I still had my Swiffer Mop in my other hand. I thought, How appropriate.
I'd taken my ragged, filthy, squalor-filled childhood and I had cleaned it and polished it.
I had the sensation of thousands of pigeons suddenly lifting off my back and taking to the air. So much weight, lifted.
Because before Running with Scissors was a big, bestselling memoir, it was just my terrible childhood. That I never spoke about. That I was horribly ashamed of. That I never, ever wanted to think about again.
But here is what I learned from writing this book. If something haunts you, if something weighs you down, you must face it head on. There can be no stepping around it. There can be no trading of the terrible past for fresh cocktails. This does not work. You will never forget. Best, then, to sit down and really spill it all out. Tell somebody everything. Or write it all down. Or paint a picture that contains all the details.
In this way, you can free yourself.
After I finished writing Running with Scissors, I felt an enormous sense of relief. There, nothing left to hide. And I didn't really care if the book sold tremendously well. I just hoped that a few people would read it and see that I got through something terrible, so they can too. I hoped that my publisher would publish more things I wrote.
There is much discussion of The Memoir. Is it dead? Are there too many? Should people in their 30s even be allowed to write them?
My feeling is that it doesn't matter what you write, it matters only that you write with complete honesty. That your story has the distinctive ring of truth to it. Because this is what people crave: the truth.
It can be beautiful or ugly or funny or sexy or confusing. But as long as it has the ring of truth to it, everything will be okay. Because people will respond to it. They may not like it, but they will not feel cheated, emotionally.
So this is all I really know about the memoir.
People ask me, "So now that you're so successful, has your life changed?" And the answer to this is that yes, my life has changed.
I have written every single day for my entire life. When I was tiny, before I could write, I spoke into a blue tape recorder. But from the age of 11 on, I wrote. The difference is that now, I don't keep what I write in boxes, stowed in the closet, never to be opened again. Augusten Burroughs
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
AA members can relate and laugh along as well as cringe
I've read all of Augusten's books and this one no doubt is my favorite. I had a difficult time putting the book down. It's written in such a way that you feel as though you are going through the motions (and emotions) with him. Powerful ending, I was sobbing.
Sat down in the jury room waiting for to be called and bought on my Ipod. I'm in Alanon and have alot of people in my family who drink. It was an amazing to listen to and I don't think I would have the respect for my family who are sober until now I hugged my mom when I finished the book. He made me change my mind and made we want to read all of his books. Get it whether you have people who drink or don't.
Dry is a pretty great book. I found myself (a straight person) relating not only to a gay love story, but also to the life of someone battling the chemicals Burroughs is. It does drag at parts, but over all is cuttingly funny, dampened soberingly by the downside of alcoholism, and come together in a great ending.
I think he writes with honesty, cynicism, and with heart..what more could you want? I highly recommend reading all his books.
What a solid follow up to Running With Scissors. It's so nice that it isn't a let down after his brilliant, bestselling, and critically acclaimed account of his bizarre childhood. Dry is a must read on so many different and significant levels. It is at once profound and riotously funny--makes you stop and consider the consequences of your own behavior and laugh until your guts hurt. What more can you ask from a book? Like his previous literary efforts, this one is well worth the price . . . and then some.
Despite the subject, a very entertaining read
You know it's time to go to rehab when you clean out 27 industrial sized garbage bags full of empty Dewars bottles. Burroughs is hilarious and heartbreaking in his unalduterated telling of his battle with alcoholism. Oh how the mighty fall when they are advertising geniuses with money to burn, searching for love and acceptance through scotch and one night stands, and forced to face the truth rather than putting it in an industrial sized garbage bag. He taps the emotional vein in sharing the story of his friendship with Pigface.....bittersweet stuff to deal with, but told in a way one can swallow.
good for past time. funny, but couldn't get to the end because of the repetitiveness.
An intriguing character study that also sheds insight on the advertising industry, substance abuse and rehab programs. It got off to a tenuous start when, in the first 200 words, Burroughs seemed to cop a "poor me the victim of a depraved society" defense. Still, "Dry" is highly readable, sometimes hilarious and well-worth the ride.
This is the second book I've read by author Augusten Burroughs, and found it to be as witty and as funny as the first. This wonderful writer takes you along as he tells the story of his life as a recovering alcoholic, and introduces you to a few of the important people he knows along the way. Some parts of the book, as with his first, are hilarious, and some parts are incredibly sad. Mr. Burroughs has had a very tumultuous life and tells his tale with a mixture of humor and sobriety. I would highly recommend this book.
More Augusten Burroughs. Very much in the same vein as Running with Scissors and Magical Thinking; funny but sad. But, to be honest, not quite as good as those two.
This is Burroughs's memoir of getting sober, of giving up alcohol and learning to live with alcoholism. Treatment comes to Burroughs when he is given an ultimatum- go to treatment or lose his job. And the job is a significant source of the addiction. Burroughs worked in advertising, an industry that he portrays as high-ego, high-stress, alcohol-soaked, and drug-addicted. As with anyone else, Burroughs finds sobriety to be a difficult process. His efforts to stay dry are complicated by the fact that one of his close friends is dying, and one of his more obnoxious colleagues continues to try and tempt him to drink. The book offers a gritty look at the day-to-day process of sobriety. This is not a book about rehab, it's a book about what happens after rehab. There's definitely suspense laced throughout this book- will Augusten fall off the wagon or won't he? This book also offers a rather interesting look at the over-the-top world of New York advertising. If you didn't already find advertising loathsome, you probably will after reading this book.
I've found that this author's memoirs have real staying power. I believe it's because he writes with such immediacy, the reader is right there with him both when he has his epiphanies and when he has his setbacks.
I have read "Dry" about five times, and I just can't stop. I love it. I love Burroughs' honest and wryly humorous writing style, his fascinating life story, and the complexity of the relationships he weaves throughout his book. This is, in my opinion, his most touching book, detailing his stay in a rehab center for drug and alcohol addiction, at the same time as his best friend is dying of AIDS. Burroughs really puts himself out there in this incredibly personal book and makes readers feel what he's feeling.
Just getting into this. I like the author's humorous style of writing, even when things couldn't be going worse. It's hard not to laugh and yet at the same time feel sorry for him.
Witty and well written, Augusten Burroughs chronicals his experiences with rehab and AA after practically ruining his life and career with alcoholism. Along with his journey into sobriety we get glimpses of Burrough's pain at watching a beloved friend die from HIV, as well as snippets of the personalities of his friend the undertaker and his work associates.
Augusten Burroughs has a talent for describing events with a sickening realism. Dry: A Memoir is a shining example of Burroughs talent. The book takes a dive into the life of alcohol-fueled workaholic and binge drinking Burroughs only days before an intervention sends him to rehab. The reader experiences the ups and downs of his journey and watches Burroughs troubled existence as he stumbles across his path to recovery. Describing the book as emotional is somewhat unrealistic, as it extends deeper than the emotions that most of us can comprehend. Dry shows the cycles that Burroughs must travel through on his trip toward sobriety and the pitfalls that await him along the way. Dry also gets deeply personal diving into Burrough's personal life, his career life, and his love life. Burroughs spares nothing revealing his own personal successes and failures along with the most traumatic events that leave him teetering on the brink of relapsing. Dry is at times painful, and you find yourself wanting to scream advice at Burroughs regarding his slip ups and the perils of substance abuse. Instead the reader is relegated to the sidelines forced to witness a series of mishaps and poor choices as Burroughs stumbles. It isn't all bad though. Dry balances Burrough's failing with his successes and his redemption. Dry is also uplifting as it shows the control that Burroughs regains over his life. Dry a moving narrative. Burroughs does a spectacular job of conveying an extremely powerful experience through his own snarky sense of humor. I was a fan of Running with Scissors and I was a fan of Dry, but the Dry most certainly maintains a darker appeal. Dry isn't a light read, but it's certainly worth reading. It's riveting. It's harsh. It's realistic in an emotional way that most authors try to shield us from.
I like Augusted Burroughs. He's an excellent writer, humorous, interesting. I did/do get tired of the "I'm an addict, but I shouldn't be here" repetitive theme. It's like a bunch of books that all sound the same.
I recommend this book. It is dry in nature as well as a tale of a struggle of a man to get "dry" it is the continuation of the memoir of Augusten Burroughs. (From Running with Scissors). This sequel does not disappoint.
Dry is a great memoir that transcends the cliches of other addiction stories. The author's got a knack for telling it like it is, with no sugar coating. However it is similar to others in that it details his life in the throes of alcohol, follows him to rehab where he is reluctant to adhere to 'the program' and then details his life post-rehab, trying to resume his life with a clear head, sans alcohol induced haze. This is an obvious, frequently traveled, plotline.... but his voice is what makes his story so engaging and relateable- even to those unafflicted with such diseases. He's funny, yet poignant, in only that infamously raw Augusten Burroughs way. One of my favorite memoirs.
I really loved Running With Scissors. But, Dry was also great in a really different way. I did not laugh out loud nearly as much, but this book had a great depth of feeling. When Burroughs describes his unrequited love for Pighead, I could really identify with the feelings he was having dealing with Pighead being HIV-positive. As usual, Burroughs does deliver the laughs. When he describes his rehab stint, he makes the other rehab members into characters that you come to know and love. I went around trying to get everyone I know to read Running with Scissors. Now I'm going to push Dry on them, too.
Author, Augusten Burroughs likes to drink. He likes to drink more - I hope - than you can imagine. This book is funny and sad. It is a sad story told in a manner that often leads the reader to laughter. Upon reflection it is frightening.This book is a good read for those who drink maybe too much or know somebody who does. It provides an inside view of the struggles of a heavy drinker who attempts to quit. Dry, A memoir, likely won't change the world, but it might change your part of it if you read it.Laugh, cry, feel the pain and pour that bottle down the drain.
I am truly a fan of Augusten Burroughs. I was hooked after reading Running with Scissors and i just couldn't get enough so i ran out and picked up Dry. It didn't let me down at all. I was roped in half way through the first chapter and i couldn't put it down. now like i said I'm a fan of Burroughs so i might be a little biased but I would suggest this book in a heartbeat.
Reading this book made me thoroughly grateful that I didn't ever have to do an intervention on anyone, and that no one in my immediate family suffers from a debilitating alcohol addiction. This book was painfully honest, but I got the feeling that Burroughs' writing about his addiction had a certain rubbing-salt-and-lemon-juice-into-the-paper-cut element, and he struck me as a little too James Frey-ish...kind of a shiny superman but only in his imagination. Basically, it was like listening to the drunk guy in your neighborhood bar tell you about the time he saved some dude from a fire but you know it's really a scene from Backdraft.