Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father” as Want to Read:
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father

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

Audio CD, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Macmillan Audio
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Wolf at the Table, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Wolf at the Table

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
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
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
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
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
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

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
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
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
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
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 []. 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
Very sad. It breaks my heart to think how many kids might be living in a hell like this right at this moment.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
♥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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
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  
  • Driving with Dead People
  • Hope's Boy: A Memoir
  • Exile in Guyville: How a Punk Rock Redneck Faggot Texan Moved to West Hollywood and Refused to Be Shiny and Happy
  • Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules
  • I Am Not Myself These Days
  • The Chelsea Whistle
  • My Lobotomy
  • The Last Time I Wore a Dress
  • I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted
  • Manic: A Memoir
  • Split: A Memoir of Divorce
  • Her Last Death
  • Mississippi Sissy
  • More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction
  • Fat Girl: A True Story
  • Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian
  • The Center of the Universe
  • Party Monster: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland
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 about Augusten Burroughs

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Johnny Cash: The Life
    $12.99 $3.99
  • No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Can't Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
    $12.99 $2.99
“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
More quotes…