A Wolf at the Table - Augusten Burroughs I absolutely hated the first half of this book. I became suddenly aware that I had been swindled into thinking I was getting an amazing deal by finding this at the dollar store, and in the future I will be much more wary about buying books at any and all dollar stores. I really wanted to give up after about a third of the way into it but since I am stubborn and also belligerently cheap (I was going to get my dollar’s worth, damn it!), I kept reading. And I did enjoy parts of the second half of the book and liked that it kind of set up what would happen in Running with Scissors (which I’m pretty sure I enjoyed reading a few years ago, if my memory is correct). But jesus christ, I wanted to punch child-Augustus in the face. And maybe even adult-Augustus too for writing and publishing this crap (although that would be more dangerous since I’m sure he could kick my ass, being a grown man and all). First off, no one remembers their thoughts and memories from babyhood. That’s just impossible and it annoyed me that he wrote about that period with such vivid detail. That was one of my first tips that much of this book was going to be elaborated on and given little flourishes of not-quite-the-truth. Secondly, there’s a lot of “this is what happened, but I’m not going to elaborate on it because it doesn’t drive home the point that my father was, in fact, a monster – so I’m going to elaborate on some other shit that’s not even important to the point I’m trying to make just to prove that I have such an amazing memory of everything that happened to me from fetus-hood to today.” He hints at a lot of abuse (mainly psychological) but he doesn’t really show anything to prove that his father would ever actually physically hurt him or his mother. Sure, his father was definitely fucked up in the head and he should’ve been tortured and/or killed for what he did to those animals, but if all that were true, why would you invite this psycho to your new apartment after you’ve finally escaped from him? Wouldn’t you want your location to be top-secret so that he could never hurt you again? Oh, and speaking of those animals, the mental image of that poor little guinea pig Ernie’s dead face just cannot be wiped from my memory. It was traumatizing. So if you can’t handle talk/writing about animal abuse and torture, you might not want to read this book. But then again, you might not want to read this book at all because it’s pretty much just AB talking about how horrible his childhood was because his dad was such a crazy bastard, how nutty (and stupid for not leaving) his mother was, and how he ended up blaming his alcoholism and later fuck-ups on this stuff that he just couldn’t let go. This is why I have trouble reading memoirs (and I think they piss me off more and more as I become older and closer to becoming a crotchety old lady), because there are always people who have had it so much worse than these authors and yet those people either suffered quietly until they died or just learned to move past it and never gained any fame for their much more horrific childhoods/situations. So maybe I should give up on trying to read memoirs. I am intrigued to read AB’s brother’s perspective of their childhood though and I think I might try Look Me in the Eye next to compare the two stories.

P. S. I was horrified to discover that Augusten requested that one of my favorite bands ever write a song for him about this book. Oh, Tegan and Sara, why did you tie yourselves to this awful book? So disappointing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIxQ1Z_yn2c