August 2009
Book Reviews by Meg Wood

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(8/7) Dry by Augusten Burroughs. (read me! )

When author Augusten Burroughs was in his early 20's, he landed an incredible job as a New York City ad executive, despite his lack of formal education in that field. A few years later, he almost lost that job when his binge drinking spiraled into full-on alcoholism. After months of coming to work drunk, his boss and colleagues staged an intervention and Burroughs was sent off for thirty days in rehab.

Burroughs selected the Proud Institute in Minnesota for his stint in the dryer, thinking that at the very least, a center geared towards GLBT populations would have the best shot of being hip and featuring "good music and sex." He entered the Institute still completely convinced he didn't actually need treatment, a feeling that quadrupled immediately when, in the first almost unbearably-cheesy group session, he was tossed two giant stuffed animals, Monkey Wonky and Blue Blue Kitten, and told he should snuggle up with them for the night. I'm sorry, what?

Despite the (hilariously) rocky beginnings, however, it wasn't long before Burroughs began to recognize he had a serious problem. Thirty days later, he returned home a changed and sober man. But the post-rehab world is a hard one for anyone in recovery, and even though his rehab buddy Hayden moved in with him so they could help keep each other on track, a doomed relationship with a fellow addict and the increasing HIV-related health problems of his best friend/former lover Pighead threatened to send Burroughs tumbling back off the wagon.

Written with humor, sarcasm, and the occasional bit of semantic grace, this is another strong addition to the rehab-memoir genre. It's not quite as good as I was expecting, given the fact I know Burroughs can tell a mean personal story (Running with Scissors, e.g.). But for what it is, it works, teaches, entertains, and moves. Definitely recommended to fans of the genre, and I'll be keeping it in mind for my library patrons as well. [comment on this book review]

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