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A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  24,362 Ratings  ·  1,922 Reviews

Nominated for the 2009 Audiobook of the Year

?As a little boy, I had a dream that my father had taken me to the woods where there was a dead body. He buried it and told me I must never tell. It was the only thing we?d ever done together as father and son, and I promised not to tell. But unlike most dreams, the memory of this one never left me. And sometimes?I wasn?t a

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Audio CD, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Macmillan Audio
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Betsy
Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2008-read-in
CAVEAT: This book is potentially triggering for survivors of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, as well as animal lovers.

I heard Augusten Burroughs said, and I paraphrase, that Running with Scissors was a joyous romp compared with this book. Now that I have read it, I understand why. Running with Scissors does seem like a collection of insouciant anecdotes juxtaposed with the raw, unpolished emotionality that Burroughs unfurls in this narrative.

I've read doubts from others about what in
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tee
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-away
Burroughs is dramatic. He's a ranting, raving, immensely creative drama queen. Unfortunately his drama queen antics were too overboard this time around with way too many "could have" "maybe he..." "i think he could have"s. Sandwich this with his writing being an awkward combination of sufficiently good and cringeworthy and you have a headache on your hands. The bright! he stared at the bright! when he was a year and a half old. Gah, save me.

It goes without saying that I think abuse of children i
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Lyn
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sad, pitiful, disturbing but ultimately redemptive.

Augusten Burroughs’, born Christopher Robison, 2008 autobiographical work A Wolf at the Table describes his difficult childhood with this parents and his older brother. To say that the Robison’s were dysfunctional is like saying Neil Peart of Rush is a drummer. The action in this novel takes place when Augusten in younger and mostly precedes the action in his 2002 novel Running with Scissors.

Mostly about the caustic and troubled relationship bet
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Will N Van
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Augusten Burroughs is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and it has always puzzled me a bit regarding the debate as to whether or not the events in "Running With Scissors," and now "A Wolf at the Table," are ultimately word for word truth. Given the corroboration from his older brother who has written his own memoir, I would have to say that there is a good chance that much of what Burroughs writes is based on his actual experiences. I suppose if I were a character mentioned by him and fel
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Anita Dalton
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-we-own
I think this is a fine book but I have no idea if you should read it or not. If you don’t know what I know, maybe it won’t be worth it to you. Because I think, at its heart, this is less a memoir for me than a book of kinship, a description of what it is like to be small and terrified, held in thrall to a mentally ill and at times despicable parent, to never feel peace, to watch creatures you love die (or in my case disappear entirely without a trace) and have nothing you can do about any of it. ...more
Melissa
Apr 15, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to stop reading this because I was so infuriated by the first chapter. I'm sorry, but there is NO WAY Augusten Burroughs remembers looking at the mobile above his bed when he was not even a year old (and in such detail!), or what the bottle tasted like at that age (or being sad when it was taken out of his mouth!), or that he was thinking the moment his friend got lost at the seaside ("I just assumed he'd never return"... what toddler thinks like that?). After "Running With Scissors," I'm ...more
Jan Kendrick
Wow.

This is a tough one... A tough review to write, a tough book to read.

Normally I like Burroughs' books, but I am truly torn over this one.

Things I liked: The description, the imagery. I truly FELT (not just UNDERSTOOD) what he was writing. I also liked the way the book flowed. It was chronological for the most part, which made sense, but it wasn't rigid. It wasn't a day-by-day diary of his life. That would've been too much. Finally, I liked the threads he wove throughout the book: his father
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K.D. Absolutely
Aug 06, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, gay-lit
Early this year, I read Augusten Burrough’s bestselling memoir about his dysfunctional family in Running With Scissors (2002). It covers the time that Burroughs spent living in the home of his mother’s therapist. I was enjoying it (after all, Augusten Burroughs ranks #15 in the Top 25 Funniest People in America according to a magazine's survey) until it came to that detailed oral sex scene between him and the other male character towards the end of the book. That threw me off not because I am sq ...more
Paul
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like Augusten. In this post-Frey Scandal world, it seems anyone who writes memoir has suddenly become suspect and frankly, I resent it. No one ever screamed FRAUD at Truman Capote for fictionalizing his past – well, at least not to his face, I’d imagine. Anyway, much has been made of the fact that the quirky humor that has kind of defined his style thus far is missing from this book (and make no mistake: it is) but then the subject at hand, viz., his alcoholic and possibly psychotic father, do ...more
Christine
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the "Average Joe" negative reviews of A Wolf at the Table that I've read online complain that author Augusten Burroughs' "didn't really know what it was like to be abused" or that Burroughs' mental anguish in the hands of his father's quasi-psychotic unpredictability "was boring, same day in day out" or that "it wasn't funny." Wow. What a bunch of self-centered, whiny turds.

A Wolf at The Table is what it is - a simple memoir of a son who spends a lifetime searching for the love of his fa
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Jason Pettus
Jun 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(Today's review is much longer than Goodreads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

I've mentioned here regularly the entire idea of there being an "underground-arts canon;" that is, that just like the academic community, what we call the modern cutting-edge arts has now been around long enough (arguably
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Sandra
Very sad. It breaks my heart to think how many kids might be living in a hell like this right at this moment.
malic
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, queer-stories
this book is terrifying. it's about a little boy who longs for love from his father, who in return psychologically terrorizes him.

This is Burroughs' third full-length memoir, and it takes place mostly before the time Running With Scissors was written about, with a couple of stories that take place in his adulthood. However, I think I would still recommend reading his books in order of when he wrote them.

A Wolf starts with a melodramatic tone, and then Burroughs jumps into his memories of being
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Luke
Dec 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read and enjoyed Burroughs' 'Running With Scissors' then there's really no excuse for not reading 'A Wolf at the Table' - purely because it provides the other half of the story.

Let me clarify. While Burroughs' earlier memoir revealed what a uniquely torturous childhood he'd had, it also presented it in a very John Irving kind of way - horrible, yet camp and darkly fabulous. There were, amongst the freaky parenting and bizarre psychotherapy (wankroom, anyone?) moments of happiness there
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Kristen
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
I read Running With Scissors and was alternately horrified and fascinated with the author's life. I read Scissors with a weird detachment, viewing it instead as a fictional memoir, because it was too difficult to read, imagining that what he described actually happened to him.

But, I did enjoy his writing style, the wit, and his sense of humor. I wouldn't describe his books as "funny" but there is a certain dark biting humor to them.

I started out reading this book, already mentally prepared, hav
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Cat
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
god, it almost pains me to leave augusten burroughs a shoddy review but im sorry, this book bored me to death.

one of the things i most admire and apriceiate about A.B. is his outstanding humor and wit despite the traumatic events that have shaped his life. this book lacked the humor.

and when you take away the humor, you are left with a husk. a husk filled with crap.

another thing that really drove me mad, were all the seeming contradictions that i am left from all the other books hes written. in
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
This is the third Burroughs memoir I have read. I honestly have no idea how he survived and became successful. The only word I have to describe his childhood would probably offend half of my followers, but it was seriously f$&@ed up. Unbelievable
I'd have a drinking problem too. I think we all look back and think," man that was totally dysfunctional" about aspects of our younger years, but Burroughs takes the cake.
John
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my brother's newest book, a dark story about our late father
Spider the Doof Warrior
This book is rather poetic. Augusten Burroughs has not had the healthiest family and childhood in the world. It's interesting to read about people's less than ideal childhoods. It has the effect of making me feel a bit hopeful. As if people can somehow be successful and eventually whole despite all of that.

But man, Augusten's father frustrated me. Books about dysfunctional childhoods are also very depression and stressful. Like all Augusten wanted was some affection but he didn't get it. But his
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Carmen
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like gothic horror
There is no laughter in this book.

Chronologically set before Burroughs renowned RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, this book chronicles his years 0-12, living with his two mentally ill parents.

This book focuses on his father, and is very successful in creating a dark, gothic atmosphere. Living in a house in the forest, Burroughs's father is a threatening figure who smiles wrong, and wields an axe. Living in terror of him, Burroughs and his mother walk on eggshells, never knowing when he's going to snap and
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Anne
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several years ago, I read Augusten Burroughs's memoir Running with Scissors (later turned into a movie). I found it disturbing that he had so much abuse and tragedy in his life, but he seemed intent on minimizing it and just trying to get a laugh. Reviews of the book hailed it as hilarious, and given that it was supposedly true, I found the whole thing profoundly sad. Since then, I have been reluctant to read his other books, but something moved me the other day and I picked this one up. A Wolf ...more
Sharon Putman
Jun 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I knew I had an ugly life. I knew I was lonely and I was scared. I thought something might be wrong with my father, wrong in the worst possible way. I believed he might contain a pathology of the mind -- an emptiness -- a knocking hollow where his soul should have been. But I also knew that one day, I would grow up. One day, I would be twenty, or thirty, or forty, even fifty and sixty and seventy and eighty and maybe even one hundred years old. And all those years were mine, they belonged to no ...more
jack
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was amazing. it made me consistantly naseous while reading it. and i could not put it down.

the copy i read was hardback, borrowed from a friend, without the slipcover. it was black, with metallic read pressed into the spine. the pages were the roughcut type of paper binding. it felt like a living thing. sinister and beautiful. perfect packaging.

i have enjoyed other of his books, but often they felt shallow in parts or like "fluff" reading. but i'm glad now that i read those because i
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Burroughs tells the story of his relationship with his father up until early adolescence, at which point his parents divorced. This is sort of loosely written, not exactly chronological, but that's to be expected with childhood memories. It's easy to read and moves quickly. If you look at it from the perspective of a child, it's really sad. It must have been so hard to always live with no sense of certainty or safety. He kept trying so hard to get his father to notice him and show approval, even ...more
Anastasia
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sandra, pamela
What a sad little book. Burroughs' descriptions of trying so hard to get his father's love and attention just broke my heart. I read this in a few hours, but it made me very curious about the rest of his family-- his mother and brother are both authors, too.

I think anyone who is a parent might find this book interesting. Burroughs does a great job of reminding us how even very, very young children feel. His retelling of his childhood feelings about his parents made me ponder how my son will ulti
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Antoine
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and painfully written. Augusten Burroughs tells a dark and twisted recollection of his childhood... As he experienced it. This book is for anyone who ever longed for the acceptance of a parent. Moved me to tears.
da AL
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A harrowing journey told compellingly and with raw honesty.
Terry
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I do like Burroughs; I like his essays rather than his sustained writing. I feel like I'm the only one in America who didn't like Running With Scissors. This book...hmm. It's very frightening, and Burroughs as ever is compulsively readable. Yet I was occasionally confused; the jacket copy refers ominously to "the games", but that reference only appears once near the very end of the book and it's never clear what it means, exactly. This, linked with a scene in which Burroughs wakes up in the midd ...more
Lisa
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
07/08 Much darker, without the humorous asides. Listening to Augusten read is a little like watching a performance art piece. His speech is very deliberate and slow; at first annoying, I think I can settle into this well. Poignant childhood memories so far.

08/08 Stunning! I am so glad that I listened to this on audiobook rather than reading it. It is compelling, utterly moving, and miraculous. Only afterwards, in a short interview on the final CD did I learn that Augusten's vision for the audio
...more
♥Laddie♥ (Lee Lee)
I know that a lot of people were disappointed in this book after Running With Scissors. Strangely enough, I liked this better than Running With Scissors.

This is basically the story of Burroughs' relationship with his father. It's a relationship that was a quiet horror. Mind games are a terrible thing no matter how old you are but when you're a child everything seems ten times worse. I think that's why this book disturbed me much more than Burroughs' tale of his relationship with his mother.

I r
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Memoir: son recalls father may have murdered someone in a forest. [s] 4 22 Apr 15, 2018 09:22PM  
What did you think of this book? 11 197 Sep 07, 2013 05:47AM  
Live Burroughs Interview About "Wolf" 1 88 Apr 25, 2008 09:13AM  
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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
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“I came to think that maybe God was what you believed in because you needed to feel you weren’t alone. Maybe God was simply that part of yourself that was always there and always strong, even when you were not.” 249 likes
“God, I felt certain, did not mind that I didn’t press my hands together to pray. I was casual, but I was sincere. I knew that God existed as the Correct Answer inside my chest.” 34 likes
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