Betsy's Reviews > A Wolf at the Table

A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
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's review
Apr 11, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir, 2008-read-in
Read in July, 2008

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 this book happened and what was less than 100% factual...whether or not every event in this book occurred is really a small detail. To me, Burroughs here exposes the terror, the powerlessness, the confusion of being the victim of an abuser against whom one can not have agency, can not escape, can not rationalize. People wonder why victims stay in bad situations, and this book expresses that slow, upheaving descent into abuse vividly--the complexity, the confusion, the instability that keeps the victim/s scrambling and unsure.

There are some moments of inconsistency in the voice that Burroughs uses in his retelling (shifts in persona from child to words that seem more likely to come from an adult) and some lapses in time that elicit frustration. But, this is part of what makes this precisely a re-telling, a re-living, a re-memberance. Burroughs is, as one would, piecing this back together. The seamed echos make it that much more realistic, that much more like the re-claiming and re-telling of other abused people's stories that I have heard, more like my own voice, too.

If you try to be the enforcer, the lawyer, the law when you read this, you might be disappointed or frustrated. But if you come to it as the listener, the empath, the psychologist, you can learn from his story.
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04/03/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Ree (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ree Donnelly well said...

Jessica Good review

Venessa H Great review!

message 4: by N (new)

N Great review and thank you for your honesty, I really can't handle anything with animal abuse.

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