Gabriel's Reviews > A Wolf at the Table

A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
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's review
Aug 04, 08

it was ok
Read in July, 2008

** spoiler alert ** In regards to the writing: There are some things that an author must do when writing books. These things can not be denied from memoirists either. The key to a good book, one that entertains from start to finish - especially in today's culture - is sympathy for all characters. This was lacking in A Wolf At The Table .

Throughout this, I went through many different possibilities for why this book exists. The first, that we were supposed to feel sorry for Augusten Burroughs. The second, that we were supposed to hate/loathe (and eventually wish dead) his father. Finally, though, I came to what I have determined as the full reason why this book was written. Augusten Burroughs was looking to discharge memories from his mind. He was looking for a way of dealing with pain and turmoil that he had kept with him for his life.

This is a fine reason for writing ... secret diaries. This is not what you write books for publication. In a memoir, the memoirist is in a special position, one of looking back. They can tie together disparate events and find the explanations for all points of view in it. The best memoirs can take these events and - while there is a character that most people will identify and sympathize with - paint them in a picture that is less subjective than normal. ESPECIALLY when dealing with material like this. I needed something to make the father real.

Which is why, in the final chapter, when it is revealed that Augusten Burroughs had his father's diaries IN HIS POSSESSION while writing this, I was very, very let down. I thought that the research he would have needed to go through to get his father's point of view was too much, but no. Augusten Burroughs had it and refused to use it.

In regards to the material: I do not doubt that there are many people out there who have dealt with situations akin to those depicted in this book. I also do not doubt that some of those people find comfort in reading about one man's interpretation of those events; finding a bond, a bosom friend in the process. If you are one of those people, this book might work for you. If you are not, you will have a very hard time believing any of this is real (again, this is due to the lack of development on the father besides two chapters that are not referred to after mentioned).

In regards to the audiobook: The audiobook is an interesting development in terms of this novel. First off, most audiobooks don't have music, this one had both music and small sound effects. Most of the music was incidental music, meant to enhance certain parts of the book. At the end, though, are four original songs (all of them are repeated with the exception of Tegan Quinn's cute "His Love") that show how the book can really affect people. Think of them as the songs for the credits at the end of a movie. These particular songs make for a much better soundtrack than the movie/book ever was. So ... find someone with the audiobook (I am one) and get the songs from them.

Overall: Greatly disappointing, infuriating piece of crap with a great idea for the production of the audiobook. Be wary of this one unless you have personal experience with abuse (namely emotional/mental).
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