Mimi Jones's Reviews > This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

This Is How by Augusten Burroughs
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's review
Sep 02, 2012

really liked it
Read in September, 2012

Funny, wise. A collection of essays about how to cope with the wide array of challenges mentioned in the subtitle. Burroughs has survived a lot - an abusive childhood, suicidal intentions, alcoholism, and the death of his lover. So he writes with knowledge and compassion. And also with laugh-out-loud wit. For instance, talking about people who bemoan their inability to find their soul mate while being unwilling to venture beyond the six-square-mile range that, research has shown, most of us confine ourselves within, he says: "Maybe you aren't even aware of how small a geographic circle you live in. But until you stretch your borders just a little, you can't say you've so much as lifted a finger when it comes to finding love. What you've done is wait for love to quit its job, apply for work as a FedEx driver, and put in a request to work on your particular route. This isn't leaving it in God's hands; this is tying God's hands behind His back."

There is a lot of very good sense in his advice and most of it boils down to: Always seek the truth, face it, tell it.

Burroughs' book becomes truly transcendent starting with the chapter "How to Be Sick" in which he speaks, from personal experience, about loving someone with a terminal disease and accompanying your loved one to death. He offers the striking insight that, once the shock of the diagnosis has been absorbed, life can actually be really OK. Until, of course, it's not. "George no longer worked and could not leave the house. I wouldn't have noticed this unless I paused to realize it. We were so busy with a life that certainly would have looked horrifying to anybody peering through the window. I had spent all those years dreading what were now the best times we'd ever shared....It didn't matter that he couldn't go outside. We had all we needed inside. It was very warm and comfortable there, in the heart of the fatal disease. I hadn't expected that." He concludes this moving essay by identifying the rare gift that can lie at the heart of this shared experience -- a diamond, hard, brilliant, and found nowhere else.
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