readers from the east discussion

June 2009: Possible Side Effects

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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 31 comments Mod
It's been a busy spring/summer, but I'm keeping the flow of our anxious reading going by posting up our latest book - Possible Side Effects. :)

Happy reading, ladies!

message 2: by Misono (new)

Misono | 11 comments Just finished reading this last week. The stories were not quite as hilarious as I expected them to be, but a lot of them definitely had moments where they made me crack a smile. I liked that there was such a variety of different types of stories (comical, heartwarming, and unbelievable anecdotes) and that they were from different points in his life, from when he was a child to a grown adult. I could tell the author's led a really colorful life (although of course much of it is probably exaggerated), and I think I enjoyed the stories from his childhood the most. The thoughts he describes from when he was a little boy are rich in imagination, and some of them are not unlike wild ideas and notions that I had running through my head when I was around the same age. Kids have no concepts at such an age, so even the most ridiculous concoctions of the mind can seem entirely plausible, and I think that is the beauty of childhood. So many things in my daily life are predictable and expected now, and I miss encountering countless daily discoveries when I was young.

Of course, a lot of the accounts reveal how dysfunctional the author and his family were, which is sad for him and of course not very inspiring, but I appreciated that he could turn it around and make the stories that were borne out of the dysfunction somewhat entertaining. Although they are very different books, the constant mentions of the author's difficult relationship with his parents reminded me of how Eve Ensler kept bringing up her bitter relationship with her father in Insecure At Last. In both cases, the writers' relationships with their parental figures have had an obviously deep impact on their subsequent lives.

I might try reading Augusten Burroughs's more famous book, Running with Scissors, at some point (although not for a while... I like hopping between authors and different types of books). I enjoyed the fact that these were quick, entertaining reads that didn't require too much involvement.

message 3: by Mimi (new)

Mimi (mimichen) | 30 comments The excerpts that really stuck out were the ones he explored his alcoholism and relationships with Dennis, his mom's friend who was like an older sister, and his hero worship of his brother. The inn with the scary dolls and CowCow were also pretty funny. I didn't enjoy the tooth fairy, the solo cooking show, KittyKitty, writing the commercial, nor the cracked, bloody fingers as much. Augusten would be there in the running for friend with the best stories to share, but I think for his collection, he could've used more editing. The introduction of the beautiful flight attendant in the first essay had a very tenuous link to his Grandmother Carolyn. Perhaps I'm oblivious or reading too much into his book, but I kept looking for a point to his essays and not finding it. Or if not a point, some lingering question that these events left him wondering about. In the genre of complainy gay men with weird families, David Sedaris is the stronger writer.

message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 31 comments Mod
I think I'm more in agreement with Misono on the rating/feedback. I actually really liked the book. I have to be honest with you - I was a bit skeptical going in. I was horrified by the book, "A Million Little Pieces", not so much because it was a lie but I thought it was just poorly written (of course, the fact that it wasn't remotely true was a huge turnoff). I went into reading the book with that mindset, expecting a much dramatic, exaggerated version of the author's story but was pleasantly surprised by his honesty. I realize that the events could have been hugely dramatized but I sensed a lot of truth in his observations and found the stories charming although they usually involved disturbing subjects. I think Burroughs has a natural way of easing his way into deep subjects with humor and wit, without lessening the seriousness of the matter.

If nothing else, it was a quick, easy read and I may read his other book (like Misono, not anytime soon though).

Mimi - for what reasons did you think he needed more editing? Do you wish he was a bit more clear on the points he was trying to get across?

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