Monday, October 20, 2008

Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs

I don't know if it's a new thing but, there seems to be a developing genre of authors who's focus is on their own lives, which have been tortured by mental illness and any number of substance abuse problems. Actually, when I stop to think about it, maybe this style has been around longer than I think. Jack Kerouac? Ernest Hemingway?

Whether it is a new genre or not, Augusten Burroughs' writing falls squarely in this realm. "Possible Side Effects" is a collection of hilarious but also often sad essays on Burroughs' life both past and present. His delivery will keep you laughing out loud but the pathos that lies beneath most of his writing will, at times, have you concerned for his safety.

In a lot of ways, Burroughs' reminds be of his fellow gay humorist, David Sedaris but, as hard as this may be to believe, I think Sedaris is more comfortable in his own skin. There is a dangerous edge to most of the writing in "Possible Side Effects" that makes it as powerful, thought provoking and compelling as it is funny.

I really can't say enough good things about this book. When I finished it, I had to resist the urge to simply turn back to the beginning and start again.

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