Augusten Burroughs: “This Is How” Dispenses Self-Help Advice

This is how you survive the unsurvivable, this is how you lose that which you cannot bear to lose, this is how you reinvent yourself, overcome your abusers, fulfill your ambitions and meet the love of your life: by following what is true, no matter where it leads you. Augusten Burroughs, This Is How

In 2006 the best-selling memoir of Augusten BurroughsRunning With Scissors, in which he relates his account of being adopted by his mother’s nutty psychiatrist when neither parent can raise him, was made into a movie. Great cast, not so great film.

Among his various other books is Dry, a memoir of his later recovery from alcoholism. According to Wikipedia, Burroughs is currently writing a version of this to be a series on Showtime.

In his latest book, out today, Burroughs tries his hand at offering us advice on all types of issues. And here’s the title—This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. Have I mentioned his dark sense of humor?

Selected Reviews of This Is How

Rosemary Counter, The Globe and Mail: “By his own admission, Augusten Burroughs is not a self-help writer. In fact, the memoirist – best known for his account of ultimate familial dysfunction in Running with Scissors – doesn’t even like self-help…[It] is equal parts self-help and anti-self-help, with a dash of memoir.”

Kirkus Reviews: “Despite pages of platitudes, Burroughs provides plenty of worthy material on the absurdity of the human condition and the unpredictability of contemporary life.”

Michael Sims, Washington Post:

This book is frustrating but not worthless. In the chapter ‘How to End Your Life,’ Burroughs writes touchingly about how he weighed the pros and cons of suicide, examining a list of what he wanted his own death to accomplish. ‘When I saw it this way,’ he says, ‘I realized something. It wasn’t that I wanted to kill myself. What I really wanted was to end my life.’ He wanted to change his old life into a new one, beginning with choosing a new first and last name. (He did leave his real name, Chris Robison, behind.) Burroughs denounces the maddening happy-talkers who advise us to walk around smiling no matter how we feel. ‘Affirmations are dishonest,’ he insists. ‘They are a form of self-betrayal based on bogus, side-of-the-cereal-box psychology.’ He argues that we must first stop lying to ourselves. Such assertions are difficult to argue with, but they are not new.

Click here if you’re interested in a schedule of his book tour.

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