Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dry - Augusten Burroughs

After reading two of Augusten Burroughs's memoirs (Running with Scissors and A Wolf at the Table), as well as his brother's memoir (Look Me in the Eye), I feel as if I have come to know him. So, I was eager to read this one about Burroughs's struggles with alcohol addiction. The book starts out with Burroughs living the high life as an advertising executive. His creative juices are flowing, powered by a liter of Dewars per night. He sees his drinking as part of the advertising culture - a world where people have bars in their offices, and happy hour is a daily occurence. While this memoir was written years before "Mad Men" premiered on television, of course, I couldn't help but picture Don Draper and the rest of Sterling Cooper lighting up their cigarettes and pouring shots before 10 a.m. Eventually, Burroughs's drinking catches up with him. He sleeps through meetings and arrives at the office reeking of the previous night's bender. His co-workers stage an intervention and he is shipped off to rehab. The rest of the memoir chronicles Burroughs's time in rehab, and his relationships following his return home. He struggles to attend the AA meetings he can't quite get himself into, while inappropriately falling in love with a fellow addict. He can't cut off the friendships with other alcoholics that he had before rehab, and he hides from a close friend living with HIV because he is so afraid of losing him. I found Burroughs's ascerbic wit more biting and laugh-out-loud funny in this one than in his prior memoirs. But, as with those, the fact that the stories he is telling are from his actual life, filled me will heartache and frustration. Dry is not an uplifting book, but I think it is an honest depiction of the life of an alcoholic, the selfishness of addiction, and the loneliness of recovery.

No comments: