DRY by Augusten Burroughs
Kirkus Star


A Memoir
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Like the alcohol he so enjoys, Burroughs’s story of getting dry will go straight into your bloodstream and leave you buzzing, exhilarated, and wiped out.

Burroughs is a malcontented, successful advertising copywriter: in his 20s, gay, living in Manhattan, and owner of a childhood that the word “nightmare” doesn't even begin to cover (as described in Running With Scissors, 2002). Burroughs is an alcoholic, a true-blue, two-fisted, drink-till-you-see-the-spiders-on-the-wall alcoholic. He is not, as he would say, the man you’d want operating the cotton gin—he is funny and dark. This is his story of trying to keep the next drink from coming. Declaring he's “vain and shallow”—“If I were straight, I am certain I would be one of those guys who goes to wet T-shirt contests and votes with great enthusiasm”—he’s quick to strike a pose to admire his silhouette; but in his own half-mad way, he's an original, a step aslant of the cutting edge, and wonderfully capable of expressing the miseries and sublimities of detox. It starts with his agreement—dry out, or get fired—to enter rehab; he chooses a gay clinic in Minnesota: “a rehab hospital run by fags will be hip. Plus there's the possibility of good music and sex.” Reality quickly intrudes when the clinic staff checks him for cologne (“Oh, you'd be surprised by the things alcoholics will try and sneak in here to drink”) and proceeds along a circuitous path thereafter, with plenty of opportunities for cliffhanging—bad decisions in his love life; a coworker trying to sabotage his efforts to reform; AA abandonment; his best friend's death; the “alcoholic terrorist” in his head—weaving in and out of gallows humor and a honed starkness. In the end, it's all up to Burroughs, and to give the end away would be criminal, for this memoir operates on a high level of involvement and suspense.

Didn't think you’d ever feel even an ounce of sympathy for—let alone root for—a drunken adman, did you? Meet Mr. Burroughs.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-27205-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2003


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