Acclaimed memoirist Burroughs (You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, 2009, etc.) charts new territory, offering his readers advice on life.
With a cinematic novel and a series of bestselling memoirs under his belt, the author now presents life advice that’s as unconventionally scattered as one would expect. His tongue-in-cheek guidance, predictably couched in personal anecdotes, opens with a chapter on rejecting the “superupbeat umbrella” of positive affirmations, and proceeds to deliver the straight, though clichéd, dope on bad love (“Abusive people never change”), the search for romantic connections (“get out of your own way”), weight loss (“real beauty comes from the inside”) and guilt-free self-pity (“sometimes you just feel like shit”). Most sections straddle the line between supportive empowerment and tough love and are written with the author’s characteristic dark humor, which consistently entertains and, as the pages turn, earnestly educates. Burroughs offers smart counsel on keeping communication honest (with yourself and others), the right to personal freedoms and the best mindset for a job interview; he also gives personal perspectives on his suicide attempt and how he conquered alcoholism. Some chapters focus constructively on self-esteem and positive affirmations, while others meander, as in a heartfelt piece on love that veers off to describe the benefits of residing on the southern tip of Manhattan. Both introspective and uneven, the outspoken author wraps everything up with an ethereal final chapter draped in the kind of mawkish Zen goodness that will work wonders for those in need of a morale booster. Despite pages of platitudes, Burroughs provides plenty of worthy material on the absurdity of the human condition and the unpredictability of contemporary life.