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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Augusten Burroughs gets personal with Santa in You Better Not Cry

click to enlarge Augusten Burroughs
  • Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs doesn’t want to be confused for a trained writer. “I don’t write like an MFA grad. I write from a subconscious place. I don’t think while I’m writing. It’s like going into a trance,” he says. “That’s the way people should write.”

The serial-memoirist is capable of speaking from trancelike states, too. He can orate breathlessly for minutes at a time, verbally wandering around subjects like brain chemistry or The Diary of Anne Frank, only to stop himself and ask, “How did I get here?” Like his books, Burroughs’ mouth is both vulgar and charming, the circuitous ramblings only making his monologues more authentic.

While discussing Christmas (his favorite holiday), Burroughs says he sees one common thread throughout his memories, “Each one has been horrible, worse than the last.” He’s recounted those laughably miserable memories in his latest book, You Better Not Cry, a loose collection of Christmas stories spanning from his youth until just a few years ago. Because so much of Burroughs’ personal life has already been published, it’s easy to plug his new stories into that public timeline. The drunken ones fit in before the sobriety of Dry; the earliest childhood recollections pre-date his life with the Finch family in Running With Scissors; and the latest stories come after his publishing success.

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(Photo Courtesy Augusten Burroughs)

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