Title: Possible Side Effects
Author: Augusten Burroughs
First published May 2, 2006
291 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780312426811 (ISBN10: 031242681X)
Augusten Burroughs, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors, is back with another collection of uproariously funny essays in Possible Side Effects. From his personal struggle with caffeine addiction to the perils of online dating, Burroughs shares his unique experiences with his signature wit and charm.
In these candid and intimate stories, readers will find the same over-the-top hilarity of Running with Scissors, the erudition of Dry, and the breadth of Magical Thinking. A must-read for fans of Burroughs and anyone looking for a good laugh, Possible Side Effects is a cautionary tale in essay form.
Just be warned, the results may be hilarious, troubling, and shocking.
About the Author
Augusten Burroughs, whose birth name is Christopher Robison, is the son of writer and poet Margaret Robison and the younger brother of John Elder Robison. Despite not having any formal education beyond elementary school, Burroughs became a hugely successful advertising copywriter for over 17 years.
However, he was also an alcoholic who nearly drank himself to death in 1999. Burroughs felt a compulsion to write a novel and started writing without outlining or consciously structuring the book.
He wrote “as fast as I could type, to keep up,” and seven days later, he had written his first book. The book was published one year later, and Burroughs stopped drinking.
Sellevision, his only published novel, is currently being developed into a feature film.
Burroughs’s second book, Running with Scissors, was a memoir that became a publishing phenomenon and helped to ignite a kind of memoir fever in America and abroad. The memoir was released in 2001 and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over four consecutive years.
The film adaptation, starring Annette Benning, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh, and Alec Baldwin, was released in 2005. Burroughs has since published four additional autobiographical volumes, all of which have become bestsellers.
His book readings have become popular events worldwide, and he has headlined at prestigious literary festivals, including the 2008 Melbourne Writer’s Festival.
Twice honored by Entertainment Weekly as one of 25 funniest people in America, Burroughs shocked fans and the media alike with the release of A Wolf at the Table in early 2008. The book instantly generated a storm of publicity and controversy due to its brutal, terrifying, and unfunny content.
Critics were deeply divided, and the book received some of the worst and best reviews of Burroughs’s career. Despite critics challenging the veracity of his books, Burroughs remains philosophical and nonplussed.
He believes that the people who read his books recognize the truth in them and know the scent of reality.
Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs is a collection of autobiographical essays published on May 2, 2006. Burroughs is known for his raw, honest style, and this book is no exception.
The essays deal with topics ranging from his struggles with alcoholism and substance abuse to his experiences with a new-age guru in Hawaii.
The book is categorized as memoir, but it leans towards creative nonfiction as Burroughs’ unique voice and style are evident in his storytelling.
His writing is engaging, humorous, and vulnerable. Each essay is like a snapshot into a particular moment in his life, and the format is perfect for readers who may not have the time or attention span for a full-length memoir.
Possible Side Effects is not a linear narrative, so it’s hard to give an overall plot summary. Each essay can stand on its own, but a recurring theme is Burroughs’ search for self-awareness and self-acceptance.
He recounts his experiences with honesty and insight, giving readers a glimpse into his inner world. Burroughs is a unique author in that he blends humor and vulnerability flawlessly.
He writes with a sharp wit that keeps readers engaged, but he’s also unafraid to delve into difficult, emotional topics. His voice is distinct, and he has a gift for bringing to life the quirky characters he encounters.
Possible Side Effects is not necessarily a historically significant book, but it does reflect the cultural climate of the early 2000s. Perhaps more importantly, Burroughs’ focus on self-reflection and self-growth is a topic that is still relevant today.
In a world where people are constantly bombarded with messages about self-improvement and self-care, Burroughs’ writing is a refreshing reminder that growth is not always linear and that self-acceptance is a journey. Overall, Possible Side Effects is a well-written, engaging book that is perfect for readers who enjoy non-linear storytelling and candid memoirs.
Burroughs’ voice is distinct, and his writing style is both funny and heartbreaking. His personal anecdotes are relatable, and it’s hard not to feel connected to him as a reader.
Though some of the essays are stronger than others, the collection as a whole is a testament to Burroughs’ talent as a writer. If you enjoyed Burroughs’ previous works like Running With Scissors or Dry, then Possible Side Effects will not disappoint.
His writing style and the themes he explores are consistent with his previous works, but Possible Side Effects offers a unique format that allows for deeper exploration into his psyche.
Overall, I give Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs four out of five stars.
While some of the essays are stronger than others, the collection as a whole is a great read, and Burroughs’ writing style is something to be admired. If you’re looking for a well-written, candid memoir that reads more like a collection of short stories, then this book is definitely worth picking up.