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Magical Thinking: True Stories

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  37,707 ratings  ·  1,345 reviews
From the #1 bestselling author of Running with Scissors and Dry--a contagiously funny, heartwarming, shocking, twisted, and absolutely magical collection. True stories that give voice to the thoughts we all have but dare not mention. It begins with a Tang Instant Breakfast Drink television commercial when Augusten was seven. Then there is the contest of wills with the dera...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Picador (first published January 1st 2004)
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Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
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Community Reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
Shameless. Unabashed. He just does not care whether you like him or not.

These are what make Augusten Burrough's memoirs very different from what I've read so far. He does not give an eff when he recounts how many Catholic gay priests he had sex with. He tells each sexual encounter like he is telling them to his gay close friend inside an enclosed room. All the details, including the unprintables, are mentioned and their intimate conversations in verbatim.

This is my fifth book by Burroughs. I use...more
Tung
A few years ago I read Running with Scissors and found it over-the-top but tolerable. Then I read the sequel (Dry) and thought it was okay. Last year, I read Sellevision and detested it, swearing off Burroughs forever. But then I realized something: Burroughs is not a fiction writer – he’s a memoirist. So I decided to give Magical Thinking a chance because Burroughs was going back to his strength, and because rather than a full-length memoir, Magical Thinking is a series of short snippets of his...more
Shannon
Heh. I bet this guy gets compared to David Sedaris- they have similar writing styles (as in, short memoir-essays), and they are both seen as clever and funny. And they are.. but Sedaris is moreso. Sedaris comes off as charming and a bit self-depriciating; Burroughs (while occasionally realizing his douchy ways) constantly references his horrible childhood as an excuse for some of his less-than-nice behavoir. Which is fair enough in a lot of ways.. but at the same time.. makes him come across as...more
Mariel
Oct 04, 2010 Mariel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Stirling-Cooper (could give it instead of Ayn Rand cause it's not Ayn Rand)
Recommended to Mariel by: big sis
The government called and said we can't afford David Sedaris anymore. It's the recession, y'know. Guess it's the poorest man's David Sedaris: Augusten Burroughs.

Burroughs would be better if he'd at least admit he's a bitchy gay man instead of trying to tack on "But everybody is okay" drivel messages at the end of his bitchiness. He reminds me of guys I know who make up obviously bullshit stories made more annoying by the obvious fact they expect you are impressed by it (I'm not). Only vaguely a...more
Anthony
Augusten Burroughs is an immature jerk that I wouldn’t give the time of day. I found nothing nothing charming about Magical Thinking and while I was reading it all I could think was that he represents the unshaven underarm of society – the type of person who finds everything wrong with the world and the slice of pie he has been delivered but fails to notice the good things like the fact that he is eating pie. Why am I so disgusted by him? This is the type of guy that steps on a child’s hand in a...more
Libby
Hmmm something happened after I read the Chapter "The Rat Thing". I struggled. A lot. I found myself unable to connect with him anymore. I couldn't laugh anymore because I thought he was just plain cruel most of the time whether it be to animals, children or adults. Now I havent read Running with Scissors or Dry yet but I do understand that he had a very screwed up childhood...but that fact still doesnt make me like the fact that he is so incredibly self-absorbed and mean (even if he does have h...more
Allie
Nov 01, 2007 Allie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with a dark sense of humor
I really love this book. Because the stories are short, pretty quick reads, it's great for those times when you want something to read but have a lot of distractions around. That's why I took it to the DMV with me a few weeks ago when I was getting my driver's license renewed. It was a long wait, and the lobby was packed with all kinds of cranky people and their unruly kids. As I read about Burroughs' experiences dating an undertaker, getting blowjobs by priests and dealing with a psychotic hous...more
Alex Duncan
Nice Augusten Burroughs book. My favorite after Dry.
Jennifer
I'm really enjoying this book! I can only deal with a collection of short stories when they're about the same person; and in this case the main character of each story is the author, Augusten Burroughs. Who knows if all the details are true, i don't care. What is evident, and wonderful is that the stories are each little gems that i don't want to end. Each chapter has wonderful sentences that make me run into the room where jason is, or poke him on the train, and read aloud.
I also believe i'm d...more
Philip
Aug 17, 2008 Philip rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Philip by: whim
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
I got this book on a whim after reading all it's praise on the front cover. I mean 237 positive critiques from the worlds most reputable sources can't be all wrong, can they?

Besides, I love David Sedaris, and out of the 237 reviews, 235 of them had a fond comparison.

One of the things that gets under my skin is the way he approaches his homosexuality. It defines him. And he comes across as saying, "I don't want to be defined by my homosexuality, but let me tell you about the catholic priests I'v...more
Andre
I just recently got out of the shower. No lie. The shower came after I cleaned the shower but, get this, before I took a bubble bath.

Now what sense does that make? Who takes a bath and THEN gives the bathtub a deep scrubbing?

... I've done lots of things in odd orders. I think hot tea in the summer and down gallons of iced tea in the winter. Sometimes I drink Rockstar or Monster or Go Girl™ immediately before going to sleep.

Earlier today, at the grocery store, I went to the frozen section *first*...more
Victoria Weinstein
After enjoying Burrough's bitchy humor for a few chapters, I began to find the stories lacking in any redeeming qualities. They were just mean and bitchy rather than insightful and bitchy. I always appreciate a self-aware narrator, but although Burrough's is admirably self-aware and vulnerable, he is profoundly unhealthy in his thinking and behavior. I haven't read his autobiography, "Running With Scissors," so I can't fill in the background of his frequent references to a terribly abusive upbri...more
Erica
So Anthony bought me this book last weekend and I finished it in 3 days.

It's a collection of his essays, much like the style of David Sedaris. And just like David Sedaris, only a couple of these essays are "laugh out loud" funny.

The first 5 essays feel like he's just trying to fill space in the book with nonsense "what if" stories that are obviously all taking place in his head. This led me constantly think, "I thought this was a memoir based on things that actually take place." But again, I'm u...more
Sara
Not a bad collection of anecdotes from a truly bizarre and frequently disturbing life, but I found I did not like the man or understand some of his behaviours; accidentally stepping on a toddler's fingers is forgivable, not telling her perplexed mother why the child is suddenly wailing is not. I suppose he can be excused due to the emotional poverty of his childhood and youth, but as an intelligent man, he should know better. Of course, he doesn't really care and that seems to be the point of al...more
Stacey
OK, this was funny and weird, like all his stuff, but I like him best when he has an actual story to tell, like in Dry or Running with Scissors. This collection is a lot like Possible Side Effects in its randomness. I find myself thinking, how does this guy keep convincing people to publish all these amusing but basically pointless stories? And can I have the phone number of those people? I too have lots of pointless stories and would love to make some money off of them. I enjoyed this but I thi...more
Tortla
Amusing enough to make me laugh out loud a few times. It doesn't get five stars because Burroughs is amusing but not endearing. And he made a few typos and can't seem to get his facts straight (did he start working in advertising when he was 18 or 19? does he use magical thinking to keep planes aloft or not?). Sooo...four stars.
Ellen
"Magical Thinking," especially for someone who has read any other of Augusten Burroughs' memoirs, maintains a cheerful level of anecdotal references to such things as the secret talents of Catholic priests, pespi-enemas, and the author's own violent descent into madness and squalor. However, it appears that the book merely mirrors the two other books I've read by Burroughs ("Possible Side Effects" and "Running With Scissors") rather than offering up a differing perspective on his life or even a...more
Isis
Like any collection, it has its stronger and weaker elements. My favorites are the kinder, gentler stories; the ones about Dennis, and about getting excellent blowjobs from Catholic priests, and his experiences at the Barbizon modeling school, and the title essay.

Partly I was fascinated by these stories because Burroughs is basically the anti-me. Not just because he's a gay guy and I'm a straight woman, but because he is an alcoholic urban ad agency executive who watches endless TV and, as he sa...more
Laurel-Rain
Author Augusten Burroughs has hit a home run again in this funny, sometimes acerbic collection of true anecdotes that reveals the dark thoughts we all sometimes have, and then carries them out to their seemingly insane conclusions...but with wit and that satirical twist.

These snippets are not presented in any particular chronological order, but begin in childhood, with memories about a Tang commercial, and lead us through the panicky drinking days and the one-night stands.

One of my favorites is...more
Stephanie
In the past, I have only listed books on Goodreads that I have enjoyed and would recommend. So this is my first negative rating/review. Today, a friend put Magical Thinking in her TO READ pile. I commented that I did not want her to read it because in one of AB's essays, he describes wishing a boss dead (the origination of the title) and incredibly goes on to gleefully reveal that she did die after hoping it would happen. This boss of his was also a Creative Director of mine at a different ad ag...more
Natalie
Every so often, I thought, "David Sedaris has written this, only slightly more hilariously and eloquently." And I felt bad for thinking that, because this isn't just an adequately written book. This is a wonderfully written book.

And to be honest, it was only the first few chapters that were very reminiscent of Sedaris. Was it exactly like the opening of "Naked"? Well, yes. Can they help it if they both fostered the same delusions of being snatched from fabulous wealth and fame and deposited into...more
Julie
Apr 26, 2008 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
My favorite part of the book, and some of the most profound and prophetic writing ever:
"The truth is, Dennis has no bad qualities and no faults. When he's working late and I'm alone, or sometimes when we're in bed together, the lights off, I try to make even a small list in my mind of his faults: Things I Put Up With Out of Love. But I haven't been able to think of a single thing that I am not able to first overlook and then come to cherish. Even the fact that he sometimes loses things has led t...more
Alison
Probably the weakest of all of Burroughs' work (with "Dry" coming in at the top spot), I still enjoyed this one. I did, however, feel there was a certain rushed tone, like he had to slam out these stories quickly to keep his name relevant. I wouldn't really call any of his writing "thoughtful," per se, but these stories in particular seem a bit shallow (which I'm sure he'd readily admit). Anecdotes about his boyfriend and dog are sweet (I liked his boyfriend announcing he wanted to be President...more
Anita
Burroughs is honest and I like him... there are portions that gave me great compassion for him... to the effect that I don't think I can read "Running with Scissor" -- it might hurt to read his memoir. I have a hard time stomaching kids not receiving the care they need. The good news is that in the end... Burroughs has received the "good" the world has to offer-- which makes me have hope. Here is an excerpt that depicts his wit, but also his honesty about his life experiences that have shaped hi...more
Carol
Augusten is a good story teller. This book is a few true stories from his life.. Some were good some were bad some were too much information...Burroughs is one messed up lad...
Whitney
Very interesting. But I'm not very interested in confessional writing, or writing that's solely about one person's fucked-up life. I couldn't relate to very much of it.

This was a book that I wanted for superficial reasons: attractive cover, nice title, intriguing synopsis, dropping the words "hilarious, tragic, etc." I requested this book as a Christmas present and sight-unseen, my loving but slightly homophobic husband bought it for me. I kind of feel guilty about his handling such colorful sub...more
Melissa
This was very clever. I don't know why exactly, but when I first started reading this, I didn't realize that it was a memoir, I thought it was going to be a work of fiction. So, initially I was a bit confused as to why there didn't seem to be any sort of logical progression of the stories, but the main character (the author I now know) seemed to keep appearing. Then about fifty pages in I realized it was a memoir and that put the stories into a better context for me. Burroughs is sharp and witty...more
Denise
I found this entertaining. For a guy who admits to writing about himself exclusively, he did not overwhelm me with his self-obsessive tendencies. He's funny and interesting at least most of the time. The scenes and characters are vivid; I felt like I was visiting a world I'm not that familiar with. Kind of fun to get a city slicker perspective every now and again. Also, the brevity of the pieces make it a great bathroom book.
Mehgan Lee
A friend loaned this to me recently, and I devoured it. It's pretty damn funny and insightful.

If it were my own book, I would have highlighted a ton of passages and quotes and regurgitated them here for you. Since it's not, I can't remember them all. But here's a particularly good one:

“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

I plan on reading more from this author.
Stephanie
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Augusten Burroughs born Christopher Robison, son of poet and writer Margaret Robison and younger brother of John Elder Robison.

Burroughs has no formal education beyond elementary school. A very successful advertising copywriter for over seventeen years, he was also an alcoholic who nearly drank himself to death in 1999. But spurned by a compulsion he did not understand, Burroughs began to write a...more
More about Augusten Burroughs...
Running with Scissors Dry Possible Side Effects A Wolf at the Table Sellevision

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“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” 3470 likes
“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” 264 likes
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