Had Augusten Burroughs published "Lust & Wonder" even a decade ago, the recovery part of it might have been interesting. Even helpful. The memoir came out in spring 2016.
But with the current glut of recovery confessionals, along with so many scientific articles on addiction, it's tedious. How many times do we want to hear: I drank and I lost? Lawyers and law students are impatient creatures. They quickly classify that as nothing but a platitude.
Also, Burroughs' recovery lacks the juice flowing freely during the best of speaker meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous. At them, there is real drama in the tale:
Raped, beaten and being left for dead while drunk
Serving years in prison for armed robbery committed during a blackout
Going from Wall Street to living under a bridge and
Being the cause of a fatal car accident.
Unfortunately, the rest of the memoir doesn't make up for this lapse in editorial judgment.
Over and over again we readers are presented with the details of his past. Yeah, all about the crazy mother and being reared by the equally nutty psychiatrist. We had consumed that in his previous books. Their shelf life has expired.
Also, there is the sex. So much space devoted to gay sex might have sold some books to that particular target market. However, I found it adolescent. A lost 15-year-old in boarding school could have scribbled that, not a grown man who has known success.
Moreover, the author's obsession with his own mental obsessions might have cut it back in the days of "Portnoy's Complaint." That was the end of the 1960s.
Currently, in this post-therapy era, it seems an anachronism. Back in the early 1970s, I trotted out all those emotional clichés to a David W. Harder at the University of Michigan Outpatient Psychiatric Unit. Even then, I knew damn well that kind of wonder at my neurosis wasn't helping me. The fact is I remained a mess until I bumped into cognitive therapy or learning to change thought processes. To keep them changed, I practice daily mindfulness.
The time may have come for Burroughs to search for copy outside his inner life. Perhaps he should hang around a refugee camp and capture that suffering.
In 2006, when I was an early adopter in legal blogging, my disclosure of self related to litigation sold well. Then, one day it no longer did. Fortunately, I was able to refocus content. Will Burroughs be able to do that?
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