Bestselling author Augusten Burroughs, writer of Running with Scissors, has released his latest collection of short essays- A Wolf at the Table. With his latest book, Burroughs, the master of the humorous memoir, makes the journey into a sometimes dark and emotional territory: the love/hate relationship between father and son.
While readers are used to the darkly humorous memoirs of Burroughs, they might be bit surprised by the deeply personal and dark nature of the book. While it does have his usual sharp wit, it is not at the funny book many may expect. It is tale of a son's quest for a father's love. It is a sadly unrequited tale.
The campiness of his earlier books is nowhere to be found. Instead, Burroughs tells a harrowing tale of an alcoholic and disturbed father whose only real interaction with his son is abusive.
While his wit and amazing writing are still there, what truly shines through is the devastating effect abusive parents can have children. It explains much about the need for approval and belonging that has come through in Burroughs' other works. The stark, emotionally bare style he uses draws you into past, both captivating and scaring you.
There are moments of humor in the book- small glimpses of the sarcastic writer we have come to love- but overall the reader comes away with the feeling of not only knowing Burroughs' painful past, but having lived it with him. His quest for his father's love, or even the slightest bit of attention, will leave you feeling his pain on a visceral level.
This book, while a bit of a departure from his earlier work, is no less spectacular. It is the progression of a writer pushing past his comfort zone, and ours, into new and moving territory.
Burroughs reminds us that the past is never forgotten. It stays and shapes us throughout our lives- for good and bad.
Overall Rating: A