Meeting Augusten Burroughs

I don’t remember the first time I read Running with Scissors. It was definitely within the last eight years, and I think I borrowed it from someone else. I forget. All I know is after I finished the book, Augusten Burroughs became one of my favorite authors, and I immediately purchased and read his follow up book, Dry.

For whatever reason, I never found many modern-day books that I liked. In fact, most people who know me tend to be surprised that I favor classic novels by the Bronte Sisters and Jane Austen. But Augusten’s writing was the first time I read a book that truly sounded the same way as I would imagine the author speak. There wasn’t any pretense or romance to it – just low-down and dirty reality. I was hooked. And I was beyond excited last month when, randomly, I found out Augusten would be hosting a meet-and-greet at the Barnes & Nobel across the street from my apartment.

After I found one of the last available seats in the back row, Augusten was announced onstage and proceeded to read a passage from his latest book, Lust and Wonder. I was cracking up almost the entire time. I’m not sure if it’s his signature sense of humor or the fact that I could finally put his actual voice to his written words, but the combination was perfection.

When he finished, Augusten took questions from the audience, which ranged from personal questions about his past, to relationship advice. At one point, the entire room erupted into laughter when a young lady asked a serious question about overcoming breakups, only to reveal she was 22-years-old. “It’s gonna suuuuuuuuuck,” Augusten answered. “Relationships start getting better around 29, but it doesn’t get good until you’re 30… maybe 31. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Being 22 is really shitty.”

I’m totally in love with the fact that, even though Augusten isn’t shy about revealing his screwed up childhood, he never uses it as a reason to be a victim. His advice probably sounds harsh to anyone who prefers to be coddled and carried around in a basket, but it’s definitely the type of advice I prefer. It’s simple, straightforward, and puts a positive spin on any negative circumstances that happen to us. If anything, Augusten shows how we need to go through hard times in order to build character and grit. Grit is the fabulous byproduct of shitty events.

At the end of the evening, when Augusten was signing our books, I told him how much I love his strong writing voice, and how he inspired me to stop trying to write “all flowery” in order to sound fancier. “You know what?” he said, shaking his head, “Fuck the flowers.”

My schedule has been insane lately, so I’m only halfway done with Lust & Wonder. But I’m seriously hooked. I won’t give away any spoilers (plus, you should ALL go out and buy a copy), but Augusten has this way of explaining serious topics like love… making you laugh hysterically… and then slapping you in the face with a statement so prolific that your eyes well up, leaving you wondering, “WTF just happened?” It’s like when I was watching an interview with him, and he said:

When you have a lot of love in your life, you have loss in your future. And I hate it – I hate it. Love is expensive. But everything good is.

Don’t let the brashness, political incorrectness, or any other “unsavory” tidbits fool you – Augusten has a way of reliving, describing, and analyzing life that will leave you addicted to his writing.