Book Review

Nov 302005
Authors: Danielle Hudson

"Magical Thinking"

By Augusten Burroughs

I have never in my life wanted to hug my parents so badly.

Augusten Burroughs made it abundantly clear in his novel "Magical Thinking" that he never had such a desire; his neurotic parents were people he wanted to leave buried deep in his past. They never understood his desire to be the best actor possible for a Tang commercial, they sent him to live with an insane psychiatrist and they didn't support his choice to attend the Barbizon School of Modeling.

They obviously weren't the right parents for him. When he was younger, Burroughs believed he was meant to be a Vanderbilt, rich and refined, and the terrible Burroughses kidnapped him and took him from the right life. It made me wonder if all of my parents' little quirks could just be overlooked.

In his fourth novel, Burroughs' unique voice and unrivaled history mesmerize the audience with his compilation of essays about the unusual circumstances of his life. Burroughs experienced moments more extraordinary than imaginable, and "Magical Thinking" only offered a sample of what has surely been a peculiar life.

Magical thinking is a phenomenon we have all used to justify our actions; it's the belief we have more control over situations than we really do. Burroughs believes his magical thinking led him to an exceptional boyfriend, the perfect dog and the demise of a terrible boss. It's the more mature version of the old "step on a crack and break your mother's back." Lottery enthusiasts everywhere have experienced magical thinking.

From chapters like "Transfixed by Transsexuals" to "I Dated an Undertaker" to "Ass Burger," Burroughs surpasses expectations, taking the reader to unfamiliar places. He voices the thoughts we all have about that annoying screaming kid or that weird housekeeper who's causing more problems than she's worth. He asks why the Amish have towns named Blue Ball and Intercourse if they're so concerned with "purity." He scrambles to find a solution to the "rat/thing" living in his bathtub, with no idea how to get rid of the beast. Similar situations to things we face every day, but with a little more pathos.

In his previous memoir, "Running with Scissors," Burroughs tells the full story of his childhood, including every sad, scary and funny moment. Now Burroughs has shown himself as the more mature version of the person sent to live with the shrink. He not only relates his anecdotes but also shares his fears, hopes, failures and accomplishments. Burroughs has bared his soul for all, and each humorous situation has a dark counterpart. The dichotomy says so much about Burroughs' life, but also so much about life in general, with every up and down and place in between represented.

Burroughs moved past his addictions, through a career and beyond countless failed relationships. But with sarcasm and dark humor, he shows he has grown, matured and is willing to accept all his peculiarities: "I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws stitched together with good intentions." It makes you wonder who isn't like that.

Danielle Hudson is head copy editor for the Collegian

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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