Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs

I enjoyed Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs and was entertained but didn’t think it was one of his best books.  It felt kind of like the book was written because the author already had a book contract and had obligations to fulfill.  I also had this feeling about David Sedaris’s book When You are Engulfed in Flames.  While I have loved things that both of these authors have written and think they’re both clever and witty with interesting perspectives on life, I don’t think When You are Engulfed in Flames would make me a Sedaris fan and I don’t think reading Magical Thinking would make me a Burroughs fan.

However, I really did enjoy this books and was entertained by it for a little while.  I did enjoy the quips of memoir  in Magical Thinking though they’re not as clever or neurotic as his other works.  I think the most interesting thing about this book was seeing Burroughs neurotic perspective 0n life and how his fucked  up childhood has caused him to deal with ordinary events such as getting his boyfriend an iron at K-Mart. (Or more extraordinary events such as when he had to go to court for housekeeping fees and paid his housekeeper $900 dollars all in pennies).

The stories I enjoyed the most were about the relationship between he and his partner, Dennis.  He talks about his first date with Dennis, moving in with Dennis, and eventually buying a house together.  He talks about how Dennis had a fairly normal childhood while he had a pretty awful one (See/read Running with Scissors) but they are somehow able to have a healthy, loving partnership and he couldn’t imagine his life without Dennis.  Aw, I love love. As I am newly in love, I think I especially enjoyed these couple-y stories.  I loved lines like this:

“I watch him in the kitchen and I think of how much it hurts to love somebody.  How deep the hurt is, how almost unbearable.  It’s not the love that hurts; it’s the possibility of anything happening to the object of your love.  Like, I would not want Dennis to lose his mind.  But I’d be much more fearful of me losing my mind, because then he’d be the one left alone.  Just like I want him to die first, so that he doesn’t have to lose me and then be alone.  Or if I do die first, I want to find him another boyfriend beforehand, I want to hand-pick somebody and then get to know this person and make sure he’s up to the task.”

I also loved:

“I take the subway uptown.  I think, Have I given up anything by living with another person?  Has there been a trade-off?  Always, there is a trade-off.  And the answer comes to me instantly.  I have given up a certain degree of freedom.  The ability to plow through my life with utter disregard for the thoughts and feelings of other people.  I can no longer read a magazine and throw it on the floor.  In exchange, I get unlimited access to the one person I have met in my life whom I automatically felt was out of my league.  My favorite human being, the single person I get to share the oxygen in the room with.”

Aw, I love love.



  1. Dylan said,

    May 20, 2011 at 4:33 am

    OMG I love this blog post! I wish though that I had read the book recently because I don’t remember much of it. I also wish that we were in the same bed together reading this book to each other and making googley love love eyes. What I do remember about this book is that I was not as impressed with it as with his earlier work, and it did feel like it was written more to fulfill a contract than anything else. But the quotes you included here reminded me that it was a totally cute coupley book and that I really liked hearing about the relationship with his boyfriend. It is super interesting to see how someone from an efed up background copes with life as an adult. I also love how much he cares for his boyfriend in a super neurotic way. Being slightly neurotic myself, I can appreciate all the ways he thinks about caring for his partner down to the itty bitty details. I feel that way with you, so in love and conscious to the ways we impact each other. I don’t know how it is that I think of you practically every moment of every day, wishing I could be with you even doing mundane things like dishes or laundry. I love when you are near, when we breathe the same air, and when I know I’m coming home to you. I love how we quietly fill a space, like a couch at a coffee shop or my car on a road trip, but how our love feels gigantic and amazing and bigger than anything we can put into words. I’m so happy to be your boyfriend and to be sharing such sweet magic with you!

  2. January 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Which Augusten Burroughs book would you recommend to someone who has only read Running With Scissors?

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