You don't really expect Augusten Burroughs to do things quietly. The author of "Running With Scissors" and "Dry" has been profiled everywhere, been on TV and radio, has his own Wikipedia entry. (OK, maybe that's not exactly a claim to fame.)
But his new book, "This is How: Help for the Self. Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Grief, Molestation, Disease, Fatness, Lushery, Spinsterhood, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike," landed very quietly on my desk very shortly before pub date with no press kit and no advance copy, and Burroughs, as it turns out, is slipping just as quietly into town for one and only one book signing and then stealing off again.
Despite the funky and ironic subtitle, "This is How" is not really a self-help book. It is written with Burroughs' trademark humor, but very very dark humor--a collection of essays in which he looks at things that went wrong in his life (being dumped, considering suicide, losing loved ones, quitting (or not) smoking, realizing he needs to quit drinking, etc.) and how he coped. There are things to learn from how he coped, and some of the essays are set up as advice to readers. But it is not a self-help book.
It's wince-funny and sad and dark, because Burroughs has lived a lot of his life in some very dark places.
His reading in Minneapolis--7 p.m. May 15, at the University of Minnesota Bookstore--should be great. Here's hoping it's noisy and packed, as well.
And here, for fun, is a clip of Burroughs reading from his new book. (Give it a moment to load; it took a few seconds on my computer.) The clip is from the audiobook version, which will also be availble to buy (and have signed) at the UM Bookstore event.
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