The Beauty of Augusten Burroughs

                                                                                Photo: Julian Behal

[Ed. note:  Haven and Augusten have been inseparable friends for eight years, but that does not impede her judgment in any way.]

Years ago I got a letter from an elderly, Midwestern Christian woman who told me that she would never again read anything I wrote because I had written a very complimentary blurb for Running With Scissors.  Now as I have pointed out, I don’t often lose my temper, and indeed, because I love the Olds, I was gentle but firm.  I told her that her lack of compassion, coming from a Christian such as herself, was surprising, as Jesus himself was drawn to and loved the least of his brethren, and left us in charge of their care.  I asked her to please imagine her own life if she had been abandoned in a mental institution by her mother, to be either ignored or raped by a pedophile at the age of 12/13, and to have never regularly attended school since the age of eleven.  I asked her to imagine what fortitude, what magnificent intelligence was required for Augusten to then move to New York at seventeen and become one of the best ad-men in the city, earning six-figures by the time he was in his twenties.  I asked her if she were truly the sort of Christian who would judge a young man for revealing his rape by the pedophile in very clear, direct language, because rape is not acceptable in her church.  To her great and abiding benefit, she wrote me back immediately and said she was filled with shame at how she had rushed to judgment, and that she had felt Christ himself fill her heart with love and compassion for Augusten, and she was sorry.  Wherever she is, I respect her very much.

Augusten Burroughs is the rarest soul I have ever met.  I have said to him many times:  he was reared by monkeys made of wires and covered in flannel, and the fact that he lived at all is a feat unto itself.  That his mind is limitless, that he is the funniest person I have ever met, that he is so generous he moves me to tears – these only begin to cover the breadth and depth of his nature.  He’s an autodidact, and can learn absolutely anything.  He has a love of beauty and is tender-hearted, and you will never meet anyone with a more wicked wit (except my sister).  And he can write like nobody’s business.  We have, over the years, exchanged thousands of e-mails, and some have made me laugh so hard John thought he might have to call an ambulance.  And he is ALWAYS on my side.  He is on my side when I am WRONG, and as Twain said, that is the hallmark of a friend.

 

As well as I knew him, when I began reading excerpts from A Wolf At The Table, I was surprised and horrified all over again.  I consider it a masterpiece of memoir, and one of the scariest and most gorgeous books I have ever read.  I cannot ignore the beating he took from critics, to which I would like to say that many critics are like the legend (not true, as I understand) of lemmings.  They have so few original thoughts that they simply pick up what someone else said and follow it off the cliff.  In addition to that, they are often the same people who would gladly attend a beheading.  I AM NOT SPEAKING OF MY OWN CRITICS HERE, WHO ARE ANGELIC AND TREAT ME AS IF I AM MADE OF BUTTERFLY WINGS AND GOLD DUST, THANK YOU DEAR SWEET PEOPLE.  Let’s consider a very powerful critic, for instance, from a powerful publication, who was so incapable of reading the book, perhaps because she is senile, that to begin with she was unable to parse the cover.  I kid you not.  And in her review she first referred to his language as ‘Joycian’ and then as ‘flat.’  I read it and thought, “Lord have Mercy, she’s going to end up in my sister’s retirement village any day now, coming down every day to Melinda’s office saying no one will give her any stamps.”

I have mentioned Augusten’s generosity, and he sent six copies of the book to give my family members, who adore him as a writer and a person and as one of my great protectors in the world.  My mother read it on a flight home from my house, and she said by the end she had to cover her face, because she gasping with tears.  The book is that moving; it is that powerful; it that honest and well-written and brave and without mercy, as it ought to be, because it is the story of a child being tortured by a sociopath, and that’s not funny and that is not okay.  I read it all in one sitting, and if it does nothing else, it points to its own opposite:  what it means to be loved by one’s father, how blessed we are, how hard and relentlessly Augusten has had to push to survive the man’s torture.  That he has emerged with such grace, such kindness, such wit, is a testament to his enormous fortitude.  There was no other man I would have named my son after, and that is the most I can say.  I highly, highly recommend this book, even knowing that the most tender among you will feel it the most deeply, because it good to feel things, it good to go deep and be wounded by someone else’s survival.  I love him fiercely, I respect him like no other, and I can’t imagine a world without him in it. 

 

Advertisements
Published in: on September 2, 2008 at 9:14 am  Comments (57)  

57 Comments

  1. This entry brought me to tears. I have loved both of your work for years, and when I found out that the two of you were best friends, I was so excited I nearly peed. Bless you both for being such beautiful souls; that’s all I can say.

  2. oh augusten is the finest male friend i have, as brilliant as they come, and all his books are uniquely fine. augusten is the soul of generosity: he gave me you in an email and since then i have been saved. there are no words to express the wrongness of savage envy that accompanies his kind of fame, but it is of no consequence. he is and continues to be the funniest man working today; yet with A WOLF AT THE TABLE he took a great leap of faith and he made it clear over to the other side. i praise him on my blog, i praise him to everyone who reads, i praise him to the baby jesus. i loved him before he was famous and i will love him until after i die. the sweetness of the man is not to be overstated. his loyalty is fierce, and his brain is bigger than all outdoors.no one except you, my dove, can make me laugh until my eyes are on the floor hanging by STRINGS. i adore him. how lovely of you to take up the mantle, here. augusten xon burroughs is a writer of unparalleled gifts, and he has only just begun. i will harm anyone who ever hurts him, i jealously guard his well being. xoxxoxoxoxo sfc

  3. Well, for heaven’s sake, I’m sitting here in tears. Of course I’m not entirely well, but Suzanne, really — bravo. And he ALWAYS says of you that you were his dearest friend at the most critical time in his life, and that without you he never would have begun writing, because you unselfishly pushed him and pushed him, recognizing his talent, and so he sat down and did it. He owes you a great debt, and he pays it with his love and faithfulness. And of course he gave me you, he gave me Christopher, who gave me Robert and Jeffrey. So really Augusten is the Lion King holding us all up to the sky as Elton John sings “Circle of Life.” Only he sings it like Barbra Streisand, which is even more beautiful.

  4. Augusten is the only author (to date, I haven’t made the time to go find yours yet) whose books I will buy in hardback because I have to eat them up right away. Yes, I’m cheap, but I also know the real deal when I see it and am willing to pay for it. I had the release of the Running With Scissors movie on my calendar for months. Of course we were there, on opening night, and I was most confounded that a) it was in one of the smaller ‘arty’ theatres and, b) the darn place wasn’t full! I just don’t get most people. I wasn’t quite to page 100 of Wolf when I came online to figure out wtf was going on. It was so dark and depressing! Where was the usual wit about anything and everything? Boy, did I feel like a lame-brain once I finally started to *get* it. His was a story that had to be told. Giving us the funnier antecdotes in books beforehand was his gift to us…the paving of the way to where he could finally tell “..the REST of the story.” And of course he did have to tell it. Augusten is brilliant. I relate to him on a lot of levels. Crazy-ass 60’s upbringing with lots of alcohol and cigs put out in the dinner table leftovers. When I went hunting on the internet for what the heck was going on with Wolf At The Table I found his blog, for which I am eternally grateful. Every day that google reader tells me there’s a new post is like a gift. His post to an alcoholic Aussie the other day was brilliant, and I wish he’d leave comments open so I (and the rest of the masses) could tell him so, but I do understand why he doesn’t want or need to go there. I’m also delighted to have found YOU through his blog. You are insightful and funny as the day is long and accessible, due to comments being left OPEN ;-). I’m sure it was no coincidence that you two were brought together. Thank you Augusten and Haven for being you, and writing for us.

  5. I’m embarrassed that I haven’t read it yet…thank you for reminding me! I love all of Augusten’s books that I have read thus far. That’s it. I don’t have anything brilliant to say.

    Also, I’m really enjoying the “circle of life” mental imagery.

  6. I too was sobbing at the end of the book, and then I immediately flew to amazon.com and left my review. I’ve read everything of his and his writing has really evolved over the years. The only drawback to loving his work is then having to wait for the next one.

    What a beautiful picture. It is so clear how well you love each other, and appreciate each other’s love. You are blessed to have found each other (you too Suzanne.)

  7. I forgot to say that a few years ago I wrote Augusten an email asking about the doctor discussed in RWS, because I grew up in the same area and thought maybe my crazy mother saw him too. He wrote back that he wished he could help me but he couldn’t tell anyone the real name of the doctor. This was WAY before the lawsuit. He was completely professional about the whole thing. But he did encourage my writing and gave me some great advice which I printed out and kept next to my computer for a long time. Now my memoir is done and I’m starting to look for representation, and I really don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for his inspiration and advice. Because of his generosity I have the highest professional respect for him and also a great deal of personal fondness, although we do not know each other personally.

  8. let me tell you about augusten burroughs. when i was pregnant and slightly insane, he sent me a HUGE gift certificate to amazon, so that i could read, because reading was the only thing pregnant women could reasonably be expected to do at my age. when i was depressed and felt no one would ever love me or marry me or even KISS me again, he sent me a QVC KENNETH JAY LANE ‘royal necklace’, an exact replica of a choker which princess di wore. he has mailed me every single copy of his books signed in hardcover, even though he has more things to do than god hisself. he line-edited my copy for my first couple books and i did so for him. he praises me when no praise is actually indicated. when i was acting the fool with a man i love, he tol dme in no uncertain terms that i was ACTING THE FOOL. he will take time out of his outrageously hectic schedule to offer advice, funny stories, or just the most hilarious non sequitors to ever spill from a human mouth. he has talked me through every relationship i ever had, and he is always, always right. he is the most selfless man i know. and his books/ oh my GOD. have i ever laughed so hard/ have i ever felt so moved and so KNOWN? well, maybe at She got off the couch and zippy and iodine but THAT’S IT. even though he is more famous than moses, now, he has never snubbed me or pretended his ’email was down.’ he is handsome and doesnt even KNOW IT. that’s rare enough in a man. but he doesn’t only not know he is handsome, he actually thinks he is ORDINARY. he taught me how to stand up to people who try to mash me back down into my chair. and A WOLF AT THE TABLE (as well as iodine) taught me that as a writer, it is essential to take risks and not to repeat oneself. and A WOLF AT THE TABLE (as well as iodine) taught me that as a writer, it is essential to take risks and not to repeat oneself. and A WOLF AT THE TABLE (as well as iodine) taught me that as a writer, it is essential to take risks and not to repeat oneself. NUF SAID. he is my real brother, no offense to my actual brother. he is my soul love andmy heart;’s desire and my funny mine. i miss him every day i don;t see him, which is most every day. but i don’t suffer, becauasehe is the kind of writer and friend thaht stays with you, always.

  9. Hey Polly, it was Dr. Turcotte. Let them sue my ass, see how far they get.

  10. Augusten did a very interesting thing with AWATT; he didn’t include very many entries of his father’s diaries, which when he began it would start each chapter. I didn’t agree at first, and then saw his editor’s wisdom (I respect his editor very much). Because by the time you get to that last entry, the one that REALLY tells the story? My god, I can hardly think of it even now. I will say this — his father’s entries almost always began the same way, and I wanted it to be the title of the book, because it speaks volumes about the man. “Cold as hell again today.”

  11. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t read his work, though I was certainly aware of it. I am so moved by this as well as the sudden clarity that I must voraciously devour his books that I am ordering everything I can find. Today.

    Thank you.

  12. AngieWoodman: This is one for the good guys. Thank you.

  13. I adore both you and Augusten Burroughs. I have A Wolf at the Table on audio and have had to work through it slowly because it is so heartwrenching. Augusten Burroughs is an amazing man and an amazing writer. I love that two of my favorite writers are best friends!

  14. I grew up in Cairo, Georgia (the town Augusten’s mother is from) and They have yet to mention his name in the paper. Not even when RWS movie came out, and the words Cairo, Georgia flew right out of Annette Benning’s pretty mouth… Most people from around there are bible thumpers that think gay people are the devil’s work. I bet you that little old lady that wrote that letter is from MY HOME TOWN or descends from it. So glad to have escaped it. I was visiting Georgia, and my sister and her family came to my mom’s house after church and I asked my neice Who did she learn to hate today? and that about summed it up! Good for you Haven!!! Your a great Baptist blocker 🙂 Love ya so much, and Augusten too!

  15. […] I just love it how two of my favorite authors, Haven Kimmel and Augusten Burroughs, gush over each other. Here is just such a post by Haven. […]

  16. He was one of the people (Beth was the first) who made me realize that even though my father’s children were exiled from his extended family, you create your own family, and it’s far superior. Augusten, Christopher, Robert, Jeffrey: they are my family, just as those women who are biologically related to me. It’s the best of all worlds.

    He’s my family, but we never fight. That’s the best part.

  17. I’m a little bit afraid of AWATT because I can only imagine how tough it must be to get through. I do have all of Augusten’s books (most in hardback) and have to say I really loved Dry. I laughed and cried. It’s priceless when he says he’s going to rehab so he can “learn to drink like a normal person” and maybe meet someone nice. It’s really heartwarming that you both are popular with the same people AND you are best friends. Cool!

  18. The pair of you – Augusten and Haven – are my living literary Gods. I read everything you write – books, blogs, notes on napkins if I could find any you left behind. What a gift it was to discover you both. Thanks, Haven – for this shout out to Augusten. And thanks, Augusten, for the shout out to Haven that lead me to Iodine, Zippy, and everything else. You too are amazing. I wish I was your friend too.

  19. That’s too funny, Haven. Yes, I know who he was, and so does everyone else, thanks to his family. For a bunch that wishes no one ever heard of them they sure do like to draw a lot of attention to themselves. And it ain’t purty.

    We lived in the Berkshires while Augusten lived with the Turcottes and my mother was hospitalized a few times and drew sick shrinks like flies to you-know-what. Of course, she always had shrinks instead of therapists or counselors because she needed her meds and didn’t actually want to talk about feelings or solve anything. She also played a lot of flirty games with her shrinks which fit in with her delight in seducing authority figures. She would’ve loved Turcotte. I guess it’s good they never met. Although, as a lover of great homes, that house sounds like it might’ve really been something if it had been kept up (our home in Great Barrington had 21 rooms with 7 baths and 7 bedrooms and 7 fireplaces, so I grew up appreciating New England white elephants.) Oopsy, sorry, tangenting!

    Anyhoo, Augusten good. Turcotte not always so good.

  20. This is about the most beautiful dessciption of a friendship ever. IT IS A HUG. How would anyone risk anything, try anything, admit anything, if they did not have such a friend in their corner? I think what is glorious about growing up is that people who failed you in the past can be replaced by those who will lift you up into the future.

    There was a wave of eyerolling and cynicism in the media that swept over Augusten’s best and most recent book. He’s smart enough to have seen it coming I bet. And yet he wrote anyways. THE BOOK EXISTS. And anyone who does not read the last page and immediately need something cool on their face like the bathroom floor is just all milk inside. No beating heart or working mind. I hate to judge (not true) but I must.

    Brava Augusten! Brava Haven!

  21. Polly, Turcotte would have been like a shark that smells raw meat if he’d met your mother. I can’t WAIT until your own book is published.

    Let me tell you something else about Augusten. Well, he’s a peculiar friend, you know, like sometimes I’ll be staying at his house and he’s so weird and anti-social that we will communicate by e-mail while I’m in the guest room and he’s in his study. And we’ll both be laughing and shouting up the stairs at one another, and it doesn’t really occur to either of us to just go where the other is. And sometimes when he comes to all the way to Durham or Chapel Hill he won’t see me, because he wants to stay in his hotel room. Once we were touring together and he wouldn’t go out to dinner with me AND OUR ROOMS WERE SIDE-BY-SIDE. And his partner, Dennis, who is an extraordinarily lovely man — one of the best people I’ve ever, ever met — wrote me an e-mai (this was years and years ago) and Augusten doesn’t know about it and I’m glad he can’t hear me, and it said, “I know Augusten might not always be the kind of person you think of when you imagine your best friend, and he might sometimes hurt your feelings, and he has a great many foibles. But if he lost you? He would die.” I wrote him back and said, “Listen: I know what it looks like when a child is not only loved badly but never knows a day of unconditional love. I’m a mother, I’m a woman, I’m a gay icon, and I can’t claim that I will fix him or undo what his parents did, but I will NEVER forsake him. I will love him as I do my children or my mother or my sister or my nieces — I will love him until he dies, no matter if he does behave badly sometimes [he doesn’t]. He can’t MAKE me stop loving him.” Dennis’s response was, “Thank god.” I know Suzanne feels the same way, and that’s what I mean by family. And Augusten, if you do read this, and I know that you are THE LEAST SENTIMENTAL PERSON IN THE WORLD, I meant it seven years ago and I mean it now: you are loved unconditionally, even though you are now manorexic and have a tattoo that went a little wonky and appears to have an Easter egg sticking out the top.

  22. Again, so funny. Ummm, you don’t know my mother, but it’s entirely possible that HE would’ve been the raw meat. It’s been known to happen. At the very least he would’ve met his match. She once devoured a virgin priest and then bragged about it for the next couple of decades, so a squat little Santa-wannabe shrink would’ve been nothing. I’m counting my blessings they were a couple of towns away from each other. We had enough weirdos without adding stool readings into the mix.

    It’s perfect that your idiosycracies meld so well. It’s important that idosyncratics be accepting, or friendship would be a challenge. The image of your two emailing from a room away makes me smile. Personally, I think I would have kidnapped Dennis and we could have gone out dancing the night away, unless he preferred to stay home and make his lesbian chili instead. Or better yet, if you were there, you and I could go out dancing (she says with two aching artificial hips) and Dennis could’ve stayed home to make our chili, and then after we came home sweaty and tired and had a good meal, we could’ve emailed Augusten in the next room and told him how good it was(and you thought I was normal)

  23. As fun as that sounds Polly, Augusten and I never leave the house unless forced. It is MEAN out there.

  24. Well, you DO have a point there. I’m equally happy watching a movie in my nighty. With WiFi of course.

  25. Haven,

    Thank you for making my day, my week, no wait, my entire 44th year. 🙂

  26. This book is on my list, as is Iodine. Haven, I really like the way you’ve described A Wolf at the Table. I will keep your thoughts in mind about Augusten’s books as I approach this one. I’m very embarrassed to say that I have not read one of his books yet. My sister could not say enough about “Running with Scissors”, and we all know how smart our sisters are!
    I think it is very brave of Augusten to write his story, and I cannot imagine how tough that must have been to undertake and follow through with. Surviving is hard under those conditions, and then writing about it, while it might become therapuetic (and I emphisize “might”), it is extremely brave. I am convinced that when an author does something this selfless, it helps so many others out there who think that they are each alone. It helps them to make it through. I am happy that the two of you are such good friends. That is awesome.

  27. Particles of Spirit: 44 is a very good age.

  28. As I may have mentioned in a previous comment, I read Augusten’s Dry when I was new into recovery. I was about 6 weeks out of rehab and my head was still kind of spinning. I read it in 2 days which is almost unheard of for me. Then my wonderful son, Sam, read it. He just picked it up and said he needed to read it. (remember, he is 15). I think he needed to know what I was going through. Oh, Haven, please tell Augusten than it helped both of us tremendously. I immediately went out and bought Magical Thinking and read it about 1/2 way through and I just kept saying “Oh my….Oh my…” ha! Then I read more about Augusten and found mention of you and ta da!! I read Zippy and then Solace and then She Got Up Off the Couch. And, I said Oh my a lot, but it was more of a laughing hysterically oh my. (I laughed hysterically with Magical Thinking but I think all the AA stuff had overloaded my brain). So, now I will finish Magical Thinking. Then I will read the rest of your books, and then I will read Wolf at the Table. I think I need more Haven to give me strength for that since I really am still early in recovery. I just turned 48 and in two weeks I will have 5 months of sobriety. 🙂

  29. Knowing that every compliment and kind word shared above — about both Augusten and Haven — are no doubt understatements, here’s my short theory on why some people are able to emerge from terrible, painful childhoods reflecting a state of grace and love that reminds each and every one of us to be a bit more humble and kind …

    In my mind, I imagine each painful incident we experience in childhood leaves a small shard of human truth wedged in the sole of the foot (think about that story of the lion’s paw perhaps) … so if you are seemingly fortunate enough to have had a pleasant time growing up in this world, absent of many painful situations bred from violence, abuse, poverty or neglect, then perhaps you arrive in your adulthood with only a few of these shards planted in your feet. This explains why those few raw experiences tend to dig deep when you try to stand and face the sum of your parts. For some, it’s too much to bear, and easier to just fall down.

    If, on the other hand, your fate has heaped more misfortune upon you than most, if your soles are teeming with sharp and jagged memories, then those shards in fact lend strength (think of that circus act with a bed of nails). When it comes your turn to stand, you find yourself gifted with uncanny balance, naturally able to stand a head above the common crowd, able to see above the fray, clearly into the most distant horizon. And if you happen to be filled with light like my dear Haven or her friend Augusten, why then each facet of every shard shines brilliantly, each word radiates truth.

    I’m oversimplifying, to be sure — but it’s the best theory I have as how some people are able transform such dark wrongness into something ultimately healing. Their good writing otherwise defies the imagination — unless, of course, you also consider it takes lots and lots of hard work.

  30. Shea, that is brilliant. I was once walking around a small, bucolic, college town with a friend and he was describing the beautiful houses he grew up in, and how he could play anywhere and there was no crime, and his parents were loving and everything was beautiful, and I said, “What on EARTH do you have to talk about, then?”

  31. All that one has to do in order to love Augusten is to go to his blog and read his last post. He is reaching out to a stranger with that incredible generosity of the spirit that he lends to all of his books. I read a negative review of him on Salon.com that compared him to David Sedaris and thought, “What a load of crap.” And why would you want to try and compare two such different authors? Augusten’s books lend a voice to the destroyed and hopelessly damaged that you can transcend your past, brilliantly in “A Wolf at the Table.” Heartbreaking and amazing, it is a true tale of survival against the most unbelievable circumstances. You do not come across such honesty every day. I also loved “Magical Thinking”, which gave me a couple of ideas about handling horribly ill behaved children as well as making me snort wine through my nose laughing.

  32. Haven,

    Thank you for sharing your friendship with Augusten with us. I’m not the most well-read person, especially compared to this crowd, but I have loved and connected to Augusten’s books like none I’ve read before. The truly wonderful person that he is comes through in his writing. He seems like he would be a loving and compassionate friend, and I must admit that I envy the friendship that the two of you share. I read all of his books during a one month period, and now I’m left jonesin’ for more! I’ve bought most of your books. I just finished Zippy, and want to read Couch now. Zippy was great! Thank you for sharing your gift with us lowly mortals.

  33. Nice Land Rover Augusten. I suppose I will read some of your work since you have such a cool truck hehehe

    Truly it will make me appreciate my dad I am sure.

  34. Michael T– DUDE, you called that one. Although I must say Augusten goes through cars the way I go through coffee. YOU KNOW IT IS TRUE A.B. I’ve never seen anyone with as many or traded so often. OOOO! This one time he had a priceless, vintage Rolls Royce (what year — 67, maybe?), absolutely flawless, never left the garage, and so we went out and sat in it and listen to this: it had a crystal decanter and two glasses IN THE DRIVER’S DOOR. So we pretended to pour ourselves a Scotch and then we pretended to drive down the road, and I had a scarf in my hair and sunglasses like Jackie O., and we were exceedingly grand.

  35. Linda, I say this with all my heart: Celestial Everything, bless you. Bless you every day. And if you haven’t read Augusten’s last blog entry, written to an anonymous man who asked him for help at a reading, you must. Because he knows the struggle as well as anyone and he can ARTICULATE it so beautifully and with such compassion. I cried and cried at the end. There is nothing I can say to help you, even though I attended Adult Children of Alcoholics for a year (it saved my life) (it had nothing to do with my mother, good heavens!), except that Augusten is never wrong about sobriety.

    This isn’t something he would advertise, but at another reading a young, strung-out, goth girl, probably homeless, approached him with her totally battered copy of DRY and asked him if it was shameful to ask him to sign it. She was shaking all over and tears were streaming down her face as she tried to tell him what it meant to her, and I’ve seen the lines at Augusten’s readings — the man is a rock star — and he stopped everything to talk to her. I should add that Augusten has extremely good, extremely expensive taste — he sends me gifts from Tiffany’s, I the Outlaw Quaker Girl — and he had just gotten an astonishing necklace by some designer, and the center of it was carved out of wood. After he signed her book and said everything to her he could and she started walking away, he stood up and ran after her, taking off the necklace, and said, “Take this. It will protect you.”

    That is the man attacked in the press for telling the truth about — well, everything.

  36. I read two more chapters in Magical Thinking before I went to bed last night. I fell asleep smiling.

    I will read Augusten’s post. Thank you. Thank you both because you will never know how much good you both do just by being honest and being out there in the world. Love you both!

  37. I just read Augusten’s post, Haven. I will no doubt read it several more times today and then print it out and ponder it and fold it up and put it in my big book with all the other notes and phone numbers accumulating in it. AA saved my life too, Augusten. And it still does but you and Haven are saving my life too.

  38. ok LINDA? you ROCK ON with your sobriety.i’ve been dry for 13 months. it is the BEST. and i have a son, pablo, 9. and it sounds like you’ve manged to raise yours up right if he’s picking up your books and so…engaged wit his momma. all praise to you. i bow to your courage and STRENGTH. YEA!! oh, another great book of augusten;s is SELLEVISION. you will OH MY and laugh yourself FLAT. it;s WAy better than anything that ever came in a bottle. oh augusten is a DERVISH of recovery and joy and funniness — he got me sober. and everybody;s falliong in line. sober is the new cool. guess it always has been. xxxxxpx suzanne

  39. I fear I missed the early boat on this one. Drat! Augusten is painfully brilliant. I am at a loss for words with how Augusten’s books make me feel. Anger that anyone would have to endure such things…elation that he has been able to overcome such roadblocks and be who he is now…anguish that children continue to have such childhoods.

  40. Bless the Seattle paper for recommending RWS to me years ago. I’ve read Dry and Magical Thinking and enjoyed them considerably. I’m not cheap, but I happen to be a bit monetarily challenged at the moment so I’m lucky #13 at the Omaha Public Library. (Down to 7th for Iodine!)

    I can see why Haven & Augusten are close. It sounds terribly cliche, but there is a poignancy in both of your writing, this sort of “see, this is hilarious!” even though the horrible is evident. Haven perhaps frames the horrible out and Augusten just plain frames it.

    I said it today and I’ll say it again, I’ll keep reading anything you write. Augusten too.

    As an aside, I recommended RWS to a friend years ago and now she says every time she sees Queen Helene’s she thinks of me. It’s good to know I’ll never be forgotten. In the beauty aisle. Until they quit making Queen Helene’s.

  41. Augusten is a genius of sobriety, but he has certain defects which I feel I must point out: one is that he believes I should always dress and wear my hair like Tippi Hedren. As you know she was blonde and I appear to be either a gypsy or some Eastern European bastard child. He claims that I dress like a Vermont sap-tapping dyke, and if he could get just his hands on me with some Queen Helene’s and some peroxide, along with some Chanel suits and spectator pumps, I could be a REAL woman. If I say to him, “Augusten, old Levi’s and Doc Marten’s on me are pure pheromones,” his answer is, “Yes, to unneutered dogs and post-operative female-to-male trannies.” His life’s work is my improvement, so eventually we’re going to have houses connected by a breezeway in which I have a popcorn machine and he has a cotton candy machine, and every day he will control me like a Stepford Wife. It should be interesting.

  42. Augusten can come take care of me, if he wants. Once a week I dress like Elizabeth Taylor, or Belinda Carlisle circa 1983 (I don’t get it either.) The rest of the time I get up in the morning and either a) just keep wearing the same pajama pants and torn t-shirt as the night before or b) put on CLEAN pajamas and go about my business. I keep telling my husband the one thing I am missing in my life is a Clinton Kelly to go shopping with. My dream is someday make enough money to hire a cleaning lady so I can stop dressing like a bag lady and start wearing 50s glamazon costumes again. *sigh*

  43. Oh, Kate. I would gladly be your Clinton Kelly! How I love to take women shopping to play dress-up, but alas most of my girlfriends would rather eat glass. While I’ve never eaten glass I’m sure it’s not a pleasant experience. I just told someone the other day that I wish women still wore hats more often. Sigh.

  44. Katharine Ross Stepford or Nicole Kidman Stepford? The image of sap-tapping is intriguing. I imagine you smacking a pine tree (that makes no sense) with your hip and ripping a hole in your jeans and kicking the tree with with your Doc Martens and shouting arboral obscenities such as “barking sapless barren ring bearer!” Or the less confrontational version includes you collecting sap from a tree with a laundry basket whilst wearing a bonnet a la the Sunmaid raisin lady.

    Hmm, somedays writing is just like dreaming awake.

  45. Dear Brandon, I would wear hats more often but my head is so enormous that in fine millinery boutiques the salespeople believe I am mocking them.

    And Bleiva, for me, dreaming awake is just like writing. I’m not the distinction, but of course I might be asleep.

    You are all so very very good — such very good and kind and hopeful and compassionate people, and I’m grateful for you every day.

  46. As well you should be grateful Haven since I adore you and that is truly all you will every need except all the other things needed in life like being exceedingly grand in a RR with a cool dude wqho says things like Vermont sap-tapping dyke.
    Speaking of the birds ect…
    You’re Mom is much cooler than Dorothea Henrietta.

    Also I must point out that your hair is fine and no one looks better in a bonnet than you do. I would tell hitchcock that if I could. I am sooooo tired now I may die.

  47. In five days I will be thirteen years sober, and I still cannot put what sobriety looks like down on paper. Thank you Augusten for doing that for me. Thank you Haven for sharing him with me.

  48. Haven, I shall make it my mission to find you a glorious hat. It shall be a hat that will blend in perfectly with any occasion. Whether that is a book signing, playing with taxidermy, sap-tapping in Vermont or even dining with queens.

    You are perfect to me in all ways, so your head is not as large as you say.

  49. Reading through todays comments and realized that either my 16 year old daughter is 13 years sober or I wrote that comment while she was logged on to wordpress for her blog. I swear I wasn’t using her to keep my anonymity! Thats what hats are for.

  50. I just can’t get past the fact that I’m so jealous of your closeness with Augusten that it makes me want to spit:) Although I don’t know how you even spend time in his presence, as he’s as close to God in my mind as anything could ever be.

    I went to the very first signing of AWATT in NYC and began to cry like an over-wrought middle-aged chick who was meeting her Beatle. Only he’s so much more . . . I feel less alone on the planet just because he exists.

    I just returned from my brother’s funeral and so completely wish that the current entry on Augusten’s website had been here just 10 days ago. It might have made a difference. I know it will for someone else.

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories & for writing your own beautiful books. You must be incredibly special, to be Augusten’s favorite chick.

  51. I love, love, love him. He really is the funniest person I know, even though I’ve never met him! Reading his books have convinced me of this! I share a “terrible childhood” bond with him, and appreciate that he uses humor in his writing to tell his stories. Its no fun growing up this way, and he is quite the survivor for it. I read his latest book when it came out, and it really saddened me, because it was hard to hear the early traumas he faced. How can someone live that live and come out so talented?

    As for your friendship with him – man, that is so cool. I can’t imagine how much fun you have together. And, when I read the comment about you emailing him while you both were staying in the same house I cracked up – I call my hubby all the time from my cell when he is downstairs.

  52. Nice and usefull post, thanks, this is one for my bookmarks!

  53. Congratulations Caryl Hayse.

    If you line up the wall slogans, ‘Live and Let Live’, ‘Easy Does It’, ‘But for the Grace of God’, ‘Think Think Think’, ‘First Things First’ – It makes the sentence ‘Live Easy But Think First.’ That’s what sobriety looks like to me today. I sometimes get annoyed with all the AA-speak and hokey cliche’ talk but I always embrace ‘Live Easy But Think First.’ Probably because I used to live crazy and not think at all.

    In fact, I get kind of annoyed when I go somewhere and they have those signs hanging all willy-nilly. I just sit there and stew thinking don’t they know what that sentence means to me? Cuz, it’s all about me ya know. 🙂

  54. whoa this is weird. I don’t know how I got on this thread and it said December 4 when I read Caryl’s post. Maybe I’m hallucinating.

  55. Even weirder is that I am on here too! Thanks for the congrats- I feel seriously tested this week. My father, who I only met 3 years ago, passed away on Thursday night. I flew up to see him when I realized how bad it was, and I was at the airport flying home when it happened. I cannot seem to get ahold of what I am feeling, but I do know that not staying sober was never an option. I was , I still am, in a very uncomfortable place, but I thank God all I craved was a cigarette-didn’t give into that one either. So see, logging on to see this message today was meant to be.

  56. Caryl: My thoughts are with you now. You are strong and creative.

  57. Oh George, thank you. It still makes me smile just to hear from you.
    xoxox


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: