Well, this was an interesting read. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this, just that I heard Burroughs was a funny writer. I think his writing was good and well thought out. He had a fun way of telling stories. This memoir focused on his life from about ages 8-15. Through his childhood, he struggled a lot with the adults he should have trusted. His mother had mental illness and what he considered psychotic episodes. His father left the family and stayed out of communication with the rest of the family. From a young age, Augusten was enthralled with doctors, acting, and hair. He had dreams of being a doctor, playing a doctor on a soap opera, or being a hair product tycoon. As his mother went deeper into psychotic fits, it was arranged for Augusten to move in with her psychiatrist’s family. The family basically lived as slobs, and other mental patients of the father (Dr. Finch) would move in and out of the home as well. Augusten missed more and more school and became more of an accepted, slobby member of the Finch family. Early on, he realized he was gay, and another man staying in the Finch home helped him develop an adult relationship to solidify his homosexual feelings. As a straight man, it was a little uncomfortable reading graphic details of their relationship, let alone the idea that Augusten was 13 and Neil was 34. Apart from those details, the book had several short stories of mishaps and adventures Augusten had with the Finch family. For example, the family believed that God used many mediums to communicate, including ‘Bible dips’ and one story even had the family believing that God was talking to the family through Dr. Finch’s feces. He had his loyal daughter, Hope, scoop them out of the toilet with a spatula and display them on the picnic table in the yard. Augusten said the Doctor was so proud of this he wrote detailed notes of what they meant along with sketches that were included in the monthly newsletter for his patients! Gross!
Toward the end of the book Augusten wrote: “I took an inventory of my life: I was seventeen, I had no formal education, no job training, no money, no furniture, no friends. ‘It could be worse,’ I told myself. ‘I could be going to a prom.'”
I found this to be one of the funnier things he wrote, but there were a lot of funny parts in the book that kept me reading. Ultimately, the book was like a train wreck, it was tough to read a lot of it, but it was hard to put it down.