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Possible Side Effects

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National Bestseller
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors comes Augusten Burroughs's most provocative collection of true stories yet. From nicotine gum addiction to lesbian personal ads to incontinent dogs, Possible Side Effects mines Burroughs's life in a series of uproariously funny essays. These are stories that are uniquely Augusten, with all the over-the-top hilarity of Running with Scissors, the erudition of Dry, and the breadth of Magical Thinking. A collection that is universal in its appeal and unabashedly intimate, Possible Side Effects continues to explore that which is most personal, mirthful, disturbing, and cherished, with unmatched audacity. A cautionary tale in essay form. Be forewarned--hilarious, troubling, and shocking results might occur.

291 pages, Paperback

First published May 2, 2006

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About the author

Augusten Burroughs

33 books8,461 followers
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 novel. Never outlining or consciously structuring the book, Burroughs wrote, "as fast as I could type, to keep up." Seven days later, Augusten Burroughs had written his first book. He had also stopped drinking. The book was published one year later. Burroughs remains sober to this day. And Sellevision stands as Burroughs's only published novel. It is currently in development as a feature film.

Augusten's second book was a memoir. It was also a publishing phenomenon that helped to ignite a kind of memoir fever in America and abroad. Running with Scissors was released in 2001 to virtually unanimous critical acclaim. The memoir would ultimately remain on the New York Times bestseller list for over four consecutive years, eight months of which were spent in the #1 position. The film, starring Annette Benning, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh and Alec Baldwin was released in 2005.

He has since published four additional autobiographical volumes (Dry, Possible Side Effects, Magical Thinking and A Wolf at the Table), all of them bestsellers. Currently published in over thirty countries, Augusten's book readings have become massively popular events on numerous continents. He has also headlined for the most prestigious literary festivals in the world, most recently the 2008 Melbourne writer's Festival, where he and Germaine Greer delivered the keynote addresses on opening night. In addition, Burroughs speaks regularly at colleges and universities on topics ranging from alcoholism and sexual abuse to the art of authoring one's own life and humor as serious medicine.

Twice honored by Entertainment Weekly as one of 25 funniest people in America, Burroughs shocked fans and the media alike with the release of A Wolf at the Table in early 2008. The brutal, terrifying and decidedly unfunny book instantly generated a storm of publicity and controversy. Critics were deeply divided, and the book received some of the worst -and best- reviews of the author's career. The book tour for A Wolf at the Table, spanned some six months and four countries, as Augusten performed for the largest crowds of his career. A Wolf at the Table is Augusten's bestselling hardcover to date.

While critics continue to challenge the veracity of Burroughs's books, questioning everything from his alcoholism and advertising career to his earliest childhood memories, the author remains nonplussed, even philosophical. "To be a journalist with a major American newspaper or magazine, you have to have an A-list college education. And to get into that A-list college, you had to do very well in the right high school. So the chances are, you were not being fucked up the ass at age twelve by a pedophile. The facts of my life are generally questioned by extremely privileged and well-educated people who, more likely than not, learned most of what they know about life's dangerous, shocking and sometimes unbelievable underbelly from books, television and the occasional Quentin Tarrantino film. The reason my books continue to sell, despite frequently being dismissed as "unbelievable," is because the people who read my books recognize the truth that is in them. They know the scent. They have smelled it. The very details the media view with such suspicion are the same details that prove to my reader, this guy was there. I remember that, too."


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,473 reviews
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,562 followers
January 15, 2020
The snobbery that made "Running with Scissors" & "Dry" ever so memorable & unique is dispersed, often in gigantic dollops, within these memoirs that are often so much like the musings of a child: i.e. Inconsequential. The tee-hee anecdotes vary from physical ailments and childhood misunderstandings, to newer first world traumas (no need for that) and--my favorites--additional stories, unexpected returns to Burrough's first (but better) memoir, of his demented mother.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
42 reviews14 followers
January 17, 2008
Another great book from one of my favorite authors. I bought this for my dad as well. He also loved it.

Favorite quotes:
Although my parents never attended church or mentioned Jesus except when they screamed at each other—and then they used his full name, 'Jesus Fucking Christ'.

I am prone to envy. It is one of my three default emotions, the others being greed and rage. I have also experienced compassion and generosity, but only fleetingly and usually while drunk, so I have little memory.

The thing is, I worship John Updike...I would drink his bathwater.

He tossed his head slightly, in such a way as to cause his hair to sweep back. This made me feel actual pain, so extreme was my hair envy.

Now maybe I'm just ultrajudgmental, but I really feel that only two groups of people have any business collecting dolls: little girls and grown women who lost all their children in fiery car accidents. Other than these two exceptions, doll collecting is just plain creepy.

For someone like me, somebody who has large vacant holes where character should be...

Touring a client's factory was akin to spending the afternoon with the parents of the world's ugliest baby and being forced to endure eight hours of home movies.

I remained quiet for a moment because i could not risk opening my mouth and having 'Now listen here you stupid motherfucker' come out.

There's probably not a connection, but when I started drinking again, my apartment wandered back into squalor.

I, with my salad bar of insecurities...

Now, I found myself having third, fourth, fifth dates with people i didn't care for. Even people that i loathed and wished would get caught in a grinding, malfunctioning escalator.

There is a little German in me, therefore I don't do cuddly.

Be excited when you encounter cosmetic surgery mistakes. Be excited when a birth defects marathon runs on The Discovery Channel. But don't be excited because you had some coffee.

When you insult the Midwest—land of corndogs, casseroles, and all my favorite packaged food products—you insult me.

Give me down. And give me polaroids of the fifty geese that had to die in the process.

There was smooth, creamy dog shit everywhere, blended into the cedar chips like some kind of awful urban casserole.

...whose name had simply bounced off my forehead.

She was incredibly funny, but in a way that made you say, 'That's horrible,' before you laughed until you accidentally farted.

As with most things from childhood, I eventually outgrew my love for McDonald's and my desire to be an Afro-American. I adjusted to my own life as a standard-issue white male alcoholic.

But perhaps my gay gene, the gene responsible for my desire to own platform shoes at an early age, somehow mutated because of my mother's heavy hairspray use.

If a green body-builder with acromegaly or a geriatric dwarf who lived in a hollow tree didn't sing, dance, or otherwise celebrate the product, I didn't want it on my plate.

Any of us would happily have licked the inside of a toilet rather than attend music class.

Profile Image for Carmen.
2,056 reviews1,855 followers
April 29, 2015
RE-READ 03/09/2014

I think my reaction to Augusten Burroughs's short stories is based on my mood.

If I am in an exceptionally great mood - happy, well-fed, just had a great conversation or meal with a friend - I think his stories are hilarious. I laugh out loud and grin. "Oh, Augusten," I think, shaking my head in amazement. "You're so funny!"

But if it's any other time - then I see Augusten Burroughs as a man who has suffered through a lot of pain. And I think his stories are a reflection of that.

The truth is a mixture of both.

Burroughs is a wonderful writer. He has an uncanny way of guiding you through a story so that you end up just where he wants you to be. Sometimes that's not at all the place you thought you'd end up when the story started out.

To reiterate: Burroughs had the childhood from hell. (Read a review of RUNNING WITH SCISSORS). And I believe that this childhood turned him into a selfish, very damaged person who is only able to see other people are selfish and damaged. This makes him mean. And of course, it's funny. It's very funny to read someone make mean, truthful observations about life - things that you yourself would never think or say...but you can't exactly fault his reasoning either.

But the reason I find this less than enjoyable most of the time is because it makes me sad that he thinks humans are so...well, not exactly evil, but only out for themselves - selfish and ruthless in equal parts.

When I finish a book by him, I can shake off this gloomy worldview and return to my normal, cheerful self. But I know that he can't.

Some of these stories are about his childhood, some are about his job at the ad agency, some are about being a writer, some are about dogs. There's at least 3 dog stories in this book. Some are about his long alcoholic period.

The best story in the book, by far, is KITTY, KITTY about a time when a severely alcoholic Burroughs buys a Wheaton terrier from a puppy mill pet store. He names it KittyKitty. His descriptions of the idiot dog and how it acted were truly hilarious. I laughed so hard tears came to my eyes. Someone heard me laughing como una loca (like a madwoman) and asked me what was so funny. So I handed her the book and said "Read this story." She did, and when she brought the book back, she said, "That was so sad." What? That wasn't the reaction I had - or the reaction I expected her to have. But she was looking at it from a different perspective - Burroughs is a drunk in this story who's life is falling apart. He's in no position to care for a dog - and at the end of the story, Same story, but we had totally different reactions.

You could interpret the whole book this way. You could just choose to focus on the funny part of a story - the part of the story that makes you laugh because Burroughs is hilarious and he wants you to laugh. Or, you could focus on this constant dark undertone that's in every single thing he writes. I'M DAMAGED!, he screams. Pain bleeds from the pages and it really does make your heart hurt when it all sinks in.

SAMPLE: (from Kitty, Kitty) I named him KittyKitty. Because he looked like a kitty. But twice the size. And he was so gentle and sweet that for the first two weeks I thought he might be mildly retarded. His kind brown eyes were always half-closed and he licked my hand, even after I pulled it away. His little tongue just continued lick, lick, licking the air. It was endearing, but also a little pathetic. Yet I knew I'd made a good purchase because he was almost no trouble at all, like a potted cactus. He made less noise than my answering machine, and housebreaking was easy because my floor was already covered with magazines and foreign newspapers, which I couldn't read and only bought because I was pretentious.

But by the third week KittyKitty became alarmingly energized, as if awakened from a long, deep hibernation.

When he wasn't barking at the exact frequency that causes windows to shake, he was leaping from the sofa to the floor to the chair and then running full speed down the hall to the front door, sliding into it and knocking the jackets hung on it to the floor.
Profile Image for Lain.
Author 13 books120 followers
December 1, 2007
Augusten Burroughs is that wonderfully witty guy in the cubicle behind the filing cabinet who sends you snarky e-mails about your co-worker's shoes and your boss' receding hairline. Oh, how I wish I knew this guy in person! Fortunately, with "Possible Side Effects" I can pretend for a while that he is on my speed dial.

"Side Effects" is another collection of stories of dysfunctional relationships, love affairs gone awry, childhood horror stories, and more tales of life in the big city. Though he's covered much of this same ground before, the essays are never repetitive or boring; instead, I grow to love Burroughs more and more as he reveals ever-deeper layers of himself, his insecurities, and his quirks and foibles. I laughed, even as I hated myself for laughing. But that's what makes it so great.
Profile Image for Kalisa Hyman.
187 reviews4 followers
May 14, 2008
You want to know why I love Augusten Burroughs so? Because he writes sentences like this:

“And with these words – I don’t think you’re supposed to be aware of your own heartbeat – this unknown woman in a burnt orange poncho doomed me to a life of pathological overawareness of my own cardiac activity.”

That right there is just fucking brilliant writing.

The chapter entitled "The Wisdom Tooth" where they stay at an inn owned by a doll collector is classic. That essay should be studied in colleges everywhere.
April 16, 2007
I enjoyed Running With Scissors as much as anyone else who enjoys a read that makes your family look significantly less fucked up, so I decided that I'd give Possible Side Effects a shot. I found this book to be a lot less organized than Running With Scissors, and the essays themselves offered little to no payoff. Most of them end in the "and then I found $50." fashion that is consistent with Burroughs's essay writing. The difference here is that the essays in Running With Scissors were significantly more engaging, so I was able to overlook a lot of the anticlimactic conclusions. Some of the stories in Possible Side Effects invoke nothing more than a "so?" response that made it hard for me to get through the whole book. On the other hand, there are a few accounts worth reading hidden inside. I'd say read it if you're an Augusten Burroughs fan, but don't expect too much.
Profile Image for Chris.
577 reviews24 followers
May 5, 2009
Turns out I'm not a fan. This is no wonder,as I am not a fan of David Sedaris, either; these two authors share a lot of similarities in my opinion. Both remind me of better educated Paris Hiltons. Both write with a smugness that I find distasteful. They both seem to share the disdain for America in favor of Europe and the laissez-faire attitude that seems to prevail there. They both assume that the reader knows who they are and have read all of their previous books, so therefore the reader knows all of their boyfriend's idiosyncrasies.

While reading this book, I came to realize that the stories had the potential to be very funny, but because of the author's attitude, I found myself not liking HIM. I stopped reading this book after I realized that. Because I have come to dislike the author as a person, his stories would have a difficult time becoming funny to me.
Profile Image for Kelly.
164 reviews6 followers
September 26, 2007
The first few stories bored me to tears. Boy loses tooth, NEXT! Man spends days in London hotel room watching BBC, stuffing his fat face and bashing Americans. Ok. Men acquire naughty puppy. zzz I don't need my books to be action-packed, but the pace of these essays is so slow that even the punctuation is starting to piss me off. Sentence fragments galore make for an even slower read. In the subsequent stories I have chuckled a few times, but I am irritated at Mr. Burrough's masturbatory method of writing. He is just SOOOOO important that people are going to want to buy his cruddy old underwear on e-Bay. Yeah. I don't doubt there are freaks out there who would want this kind of memorabilia, but our author seems to be a little too proud of it for me to like him. In fairness, perhaps if I had read "Running with Scissors" first, I would have fallen in love with him and then would be amused by these glimpses into the mind of the author. Stories further into the book pick up a little for me, but I'm not sure if it's because they were truly more entertaining and better written, or if it's because I felt nostalgic for the places Augusten described, since I went to college in Western Mass. I agree with another reviewer on the point that Augusten's attempts at sentimentality seemed phony and overdone, especially in the story about the badly burned dermatologist. Puh-leeze. Entertainment Weekly editors must have been on laughing gas to call this man one of the 15 funniest.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,536 followers
August 19, 2013
Augusten Burroughs gives me a happy. While Running With Scissors contains MANY shocking/graphic/awful stories that are frosted with humor, Possible Side Effects provides all the giggle without the remorse of laughing at someone else’s expense. Burroughs’ essays are sheer comedic genius. Truly laugh out loud funny – so much so that I was CONSTANTLY inundated with “what’s so funny, Mom?????” from the small people who live with me. FYI – the appropriate answer to that question when reading Augusten Burroughs 99.9999% of the time is “NOTHING!”
6 reviews
March 30, 2008
I am about halfway through this collection of autobiographical essays, and I love it every bit as much as I loved "Magical Thinking." Burroughs presents himself as this detached, selfish, self-absorbed man, but the stories he shares reveal him to be a tenderhearted person who is acutely aware of his foibles.
I love reading about his relationship with Dennis. I love that he marvels that someone as wonderful as Dennis could love him so much. Their unabashed adoration of their dogs hits home with me.
Burroughs is unpretentious, honest, insightful and a deft manipulator of the English language. What more could a reader want?
Profile Image for Rachel.
15 reviews7 followers
October 8, 2008
Reminiscent of the works of David Sedaris (amusing anecdotes told tongue-in-cheek and very much informed by the sexual identity of the author) these stories lack the reluctant depth that keeps Sedaris afloat. Although Burroughs has clearly endured some trying experiences, he lacks either the writing chops or the perspective to transfer them to the page in a non-static way. Although some of his tales are lovely and funny, some of them fall quite flat, as though tossed in between the real stories to bulk up the length. He also has an annoying habit of throwing in a trite one-liner ending as a substitute for a substantive development of some kind of point to the story.

I haven't read "Running With Scissors," but I'd like to, if only to see where all the hype comes from--and if it's justified, why his novel might be so different from his short stories. It's not that I'm not enjoying the collection; it's just not the sort of book I would advertise that I enjoy.
Profile Image for Gk.
18 reviews5 followers
June 18, 2008
Like reaching past the Harvest Wheat and grabbing the Coco Puffs and loving it.
27 reviews3 followers
February 7, 2009
I don't know if it's a new thing but, there seems to be a developing genre of authors who's focus is on their own lives, which have been tortured by mental illness and any number of substance abuse problems. Actually, when I stop to think about it, maybe this style has been around longer than I think. Jack Kerouac? Ernest Hemingway?

Whether it is a new genre or not, Augusten Burroughs' writing falls squarely in this realm. "Possible Side Effects" is a collection of hilarious but also often sad essays on Burroughs' life both past and present. His delivery will keep you laughing out loud but the pathos that lies beneath most of his writing will, at times, have you concerned for his safety.

In a lot of ways, Burroughs' reminds be of his fellow gay humorist, David Sedaris but, as hard as this may be to believe, I think Sedaris is more comfortable in his own skin. There is a dangerous edge to most of the writing in "Possible Side Effects" that makes it as powerful, thought provoking and compelling as it is funny.

I really can't say enough good things about this book. When I finished it, I had to resist the urge to simply turn back to the beginning and start again.
Profile Image for Tim.
11 reviews5 followers
August 28, 2009
Apparent brutal honesty of retelling stories of his life had me feeling a wonderful range of emotions. Interest, pondering, laughter, empathetic sorrow and pain, anger and a peculiar sense of justice.

He writes very well for a self confessed high school drop-out. Each chapter is an event from a period in his life, which he weaves into something which is eminently re-tellable.

Perhaps it is just my own sense of connection with events which had me nodding along between chuckles and often finding myself inadvertently making a mental note of a life lesson. Definitely an easy read and one i went into with no expectations or prior knowledge and have ended up excitedly wishing to share parts and reading out loud passages to friends and writing more than a couple of words of review.. Cheers Augusten :)
Profile Image for Alex Duncan.
40 reviews6 followers
July 8, 2013
This book shows what happens when you go back to the well and the well is dry. I hated it.
Profile Image for Steph.
80 reviews3 followers
May 15, 2022
2.5/3. this was hilarious and I’m a lover of dry humour but some of it felt disjointed. regardless burroughs has had such an interesting upbringing that at points it’s hard to believe that any of it actually happened
Profile Image for Andre.
66 reviews19 followers
May 14, 2009
In case you didn't know, this, along with "Magical Thinking", is a book of short stories. ("Magical Thinking" received better reviews on both goodreads.com but the same rating on Amazon. I'll read MT sometime soon and you'll probably see a comparison in that review.)

Not as good as Dry or Running With Scissors, but it's a quick read. I wouldn't recommend reading them all (unless you're just completely bored). Here is what I'd consider "required" and "optional" reading. (Not all of the stories are listed below).

*** I've tried to place them in the order that I liked them.

Required Reading:

Try Our New Single Black Mother Menu ("So if McDonald's is for blacks, what's for whites?"), Moving Violations ("I would then hold the picture against the window and Debby would either speed up to pass the offending car, or she would slow down so they could get a good look. The images were all hardcore pornography."), Mrs. Chang ("It was because of Mrs. Chang that I spent my childhood secure in the knowledge that Santa Claus as Chinese."), Bloody Sunday ("We are obsessed with sex in an unnatural way."), Killing John Updike ("But that's what happens when you die. The vultures come. Sometimes, even before you die."), GWF Seeks SAME ("'What does a lesbian bring on a second date?' Christy was fond of saying. 'A moving van.'"), Kitty, Kitty ("And then I thought, maybe seeing for myself means something, makes a difference."), You've Come a Long Way, Baby! ("What if in the future I met somebody that I thought was glamorous and exciting and they smoked? If it ever became necessary for me to begin, I'd better be damn ready and already know my brand."), Little Crucifixions ("I could lie to my parents because I felt that they were only temporary. I constantly felt on loan to them and overdue to be returned."), Julia's Child ("My mother engaged Julia Child as my babysitter. In the form of a public television cooking series on WGBH, our local PBS station.")


Getting to No You ("When you begin discussing toilet intimacies on the first date, you have failed the first date."), Taking Tests, Taking Things ("A truant teenager loitering outside a movie theater is going to be far more motivated to return to school when he has the barrel of a .45 pressed against his cheek."), Pest Control ("Although my parents never attended church or mentioned Jesus except when they screamed at each other - and then they used his full name, 'Jesus Fucking Christ' - they did explain that he was a man who lived in the sky and granted wishes to certain people. People he liked."), The Georgia Thumper ("Like every child, I adored her. Until I formed a brain and got to know her.")

Run Along, Lil Chillens! Git back to work...
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,930 reviews90 followers
December 18, 2010
Most of this book’s chapters were laugh-out-loud hilarious. While I truly enjoyed the majority of the book, my enthusiasm was dampened a bit by the author’s stories about his experiences buying dogs.

“Kitty, Kitty,” chronicles the author’s short-lived ownership of a Wheaten terrier puppy named, well, KittyKitty. Burroughs impulsively buys the dog at a time when his life is in shambles and he is in no place to take on the responsibility of a pet. He would have had an excuse, I suppose, if he were totally ignorant of the sad reality behind pet store dogs, but no, he’s more than well-informed:

I did know that you’re never supposed to buy a puppy from a pet store. And the reason is that you support the puppy mill industry. A puppy mill is a disreputable breeder who churns out puppies the way Nabisco churns out Oreos. Often the dogs are inbred and have health problems. But all of this knowledge evaporated once I went inside the pet store and saw the adorable puppies.

He continues:

A rational person would have seen the filthy cages where the dogs were kept and known better than to slap down his credit card and take one home. But I saw the filthy cages and thought, I must save one.

I found myself cursing the puppy mill industry who play upon the dogs’ plight as a selling point and use their suffering to appeal to sympathetic shoppers. The author doesn’t get off the hook, either, though: “Saving” a pet store puppy by buying him is a pointless endeavor, as he’ll only be replaced by another suffering puppy, and so on as long as the cash register keeps ringing. And he knows that. That’s the maddening part.

KittyKitty turns out to be too overwhelming for Augusten (that’s another feature of irresponsible pet shops: they don’t assess a customer’s ability to care for an animal, only pay for him). With a heavy heart, the author takes him to an animal shelter. Happily for KittyKitty, he is adopted into a much more stable home belonging to a shelter employee. However, I found myself mourning for KittyKitty’s parents, still trapped at the puppy mill.

One would think after this disastrous experience, Burroughs would swear off buying dogs. But no! The chapter titled “The Sacred Cow” has he and his partner purchasing a tiny French bulldog puppy at another pet store. And while “Cow’s” life is much more secure than KittyKitty’s, once again, the miserable cycle of puppy mill breeding continues. Come on, Augusten. You have a big heart. If you really want to “save” a dog, you need to head down to your animal shelter.
18 reviews
February 16, 2016
I finished Augusten Burroughs' breakthrough memoir Running with Scissors a few months ago, and I must say that I totally loved every page of it. It was a wild rollercoaster ride from start to finish. I picked up Possible Side Effects, expecting the same thrill and excitement I felt when I read Running with Scissors. Unfortunately, this memoir did not give me the same entertainment and shock value that made me appreciate Burroughs in the first place.

Possible Side Effects is a collection of short stories ranging from his quirky childhood to his messy adulthood. What turned me away from this book is the lack of organization and connection in his stories. It became somewhat difficult for the readers to indicate which part of his life is being described because of the fact that his stories are all over the place. He would tell a story from his quirky childhood about his crazy poet of a mother and then suddenly follow it up with a story about the time when he was an alcoholic. It seems like he used this method to show some sort of correlation between his unconventional upbringing and the issues in his adult life. However, it only ended up being confusing and flat because of the lack of that "wow" factor from the readers. Some stories just ended up being disappointing because there seemed to be no point in writing and publishing them in the first place.

It is pretty evident that I was a little disappointed when I finished this book. I delved into it with such high expectations because of the high bar Running with Scissors set. I know it is a little unfair for me to compare the two books as they are different in content and style, but it is quite unavoidable when some parts of the book were parallel with each other. It seemed like he recycled some stories from his previous memoirs and stuck them together in this book.
Profile Image for Rljulie.
81 reviews7 followers
October 8, 2014
Sad, narcissistic, alcoholic stories. I can't remember why I wanted to read this book.

To me it seems like Burroughs's agent said "hey, man, enough time has gone by since we last published a book, you should do another one" and Burroughs complied with a series of essays that are...unremarkable, so far: little blog posts of short memoirs, to which there seems to be no theme and no purpose, just the certainty that the author has a big enough name and a big enough following that people will buy whatever he writes, whether or not it's interesting. So far, seven essays in, it is not.

Moving beyond the first group, we get into a series of essays that remind me of every addict I've ever known, and how people with addictions always think they are so charming and so funny and so entertaining, when really, they're just self-centered, and boring in that self-centered ness because they're just like every other addict trying to convince themselves they are charming, funny, and entertaining. Clearly there's a big market for "addiction lit", but I'm had enough of the genre in real life, and find little patience for it in literature.

The two stars is because the writing isn't terrible.
62 reviews3 followers
August 5, 2011
In "Running With Scissors", I flat out didn't believe Burroughs. I felt that his story was probably 50% true. There is nothing wrong with someone writing a memoir and stretching the truth, but I couldn't shake the feeling that he was flat out lying. Along with his horrifyingly vivid description of his early teen sexual experience with a 30 year old man, I felt like he was trying to hard to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. I enjoyed his style, but I had a hard time respecting him.

In "Possible Side Effects", it seemed that Burroughs didn't try to force things. He has stories that don't rely on overly fantastic situations. He leans upon his writing instead of the situations he puts himself in and I think the book benefitted greatly for it.

I made the mistake of reading "GWF seeks same" during my Latin class. My instructer was at the board translating sentences as I tried my damndest to supress giggles in the back of the class. It was definitely the best essay in the book in my opinion.

"PSE" reads fast. If you didn't like "RWS", don't give up on the Burroughs. "Possible Side Effects" isn't a great book, but I definitely liked it. I hear that "Magical Thinking" is his best book yet, so that'll be the next one I try.
Profile Image for Serafina Lowery.
2 reviews1 follower
February 29, 2016
I read the book Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs. I think his purpose for writing this book was to entertain. He writes a series of stories about his past to teach lessons, and to entertain readers. He writes a lot about his adventures with his anxiety about his cardiac problems, and much more. Readers can explain that Augusten is not meaning to be funny with his life situations, but ends up being hilarious. From collecting college t-shirts to nicotine gum, this story is endless humor.

The theme in this book isn’t that hard to find. Augustens trying to make readers realize we are all clumsy sometimes, and those situations can always turn out to be life lessons. It also seems as if there is no theme. There are many different stories and each one of them have their own lesson.
Augusten seems to find humor in the little things, in his chapter about his cardiac issues, he wrote- “And with these words, I don’t think you’re supposed to be aware of your own heartbeat- this unknown woman in a burnt orange poncho doomed me to a life of pathological overawareness of my own cardiac activity (86).” He has humor to the littlest things.

The style of this book is narrative, with many stories about the life in Augusten Burroughs. This book is very entertaining and I enjoyed every bit of it. I would rate this book five stars, because of the humor and the relatable situations.
Profile Image for Ms. McGregor.
193 reviews40 followers
April 3, 2007
Possible Side Effects shows us more than anything that Burroughs is living a happy, successful life. While still haunted by demons from his perilous childhood, he has conquered many of them, and the rest he lives with. I find it hard to not be happy that Burroughs has reached this pinnacle in his life. He certainly deserves it. However, it's not as interesting to read about his happy life with his partner Dennis or his success as an author as it is to read about him living with his mom's shrink or going through rehab. This book had a sort of Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim feel for me. As I felt about the recent Sedaris novel, Side Effects is similar to Burroughs' earlier works, but lacking some of that hilarious edge that hooked us in the first place. I would recommend the book if you are simply curious about what's been going on with Augusten Burroughs, or if you want a light no-hassle read for a few days.
Profile Image for Elise R.
117 reviews7 followers
February 18, 2014
I really enjoyed this book! I have read other books by Augusten Burroughs, and I think my familiarity with his troubled family and all of his eccentricities made the book slightly more appealing than if I had gone in blind. The essays remind me of a more low-brow David Sedaris, which I mean as a compliment to both authors. Burroughs doesn't necessarily leave you with a moral to the story like Sedaris does. Some of these stories (especially the one about adopting his dog, CowCow) had me stifling laughter on the T.
Profile Image for Kimmy.
139 reviews9 followers
September 30, 2015
Though this book took a few stories to get into, once you make it through the first two to three chapters it really gets quite funny. I definitely found myself chuckling out loud a couple times. I was expecting this book to be a little darker, perhaps because I remember his other book Running with Scissors having some darker aspects to it, but it's really pretty light for the most part. I don't normally read short stories but I'm glad a read these, Burroughs really has a voice that stands out as his own.
Profile Image for Kaloyana.
680 reviews2 followers
May 19, 2013
Всяка глава от книгата е отделна случка от живота на автора. Това е живот на съвременен човек, с проблемите на съвременния човек - алкохолизъм, самота, липса на разбирателство, но всичко разказано много весело, леко, непринудено.
Написана много остроумно, с добро чувство за хумор книга, която донякъде напомня да добрите години на Бегбеде, но без неприятната претенция на французина.
Много одобрявам и ще прочета още от този американец.
Profile Image for Mal Blum.
4 reviews5 followers
July 3, 2010
I am ashamed to admit that I had never read Augusten Burroughs before taking this out. I didn't want to start with "Running With Scissors" because I dislike reading books after I've already seen the film adaptation... This was a great intro. Big ups, Augusten. Perfect blend of snarkiness, wit, and self-awareness to draw me in. I did end up taking out Running with Scissors after all.
Profile Image for Gina.
58 reviews
February 25, 2008
I didn't like this at all. Didn't even read the whole thing..just kept reading chapters in hopes that one would actually be funny but no luck so it's going back to the library.
Profile Image for Doris.
84 reviews
April 28, 2011
Wow. Hysterical and sad all at once. Thank you Augusten for sharing all of your layers, sparing us nothing! Once again, you have not disappointed!
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