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Dry: A Memoir    by Augusten Burroughs Amazon.com order for
Dry
by Augusten Burroughs
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Dry recounts, in harrowing, gut-wrenching detail, the author's battle with alcoholism and rehab. Augusten Burroughs holds nothing back in detailing his descent into the litter-filled world of the drunk. At the same time, his memoir is full of humor and sharp-edged wit.

Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors, lived a more than unusual childhood. Bizarre, in fact. Given to his mother's psychiatrist at age twelve, he survived three years of being sexually abused by that man. The fact that he managed to become a successful advertising executive, commanding a big salary, with only a grammar school education, says a great deal about the author. Intelligent, personable, gay, talented, Burroughs is also an addict. It's an every day battle to stay sober. Sometimes, he loses that battle and slides back into the gutter. He has close friends who care about him and want to see him remain sober. But he loves a man who is on the fast track to destruction and seems determined to take Burroughs with him.

I can't imagine going through rehab as Burroughs did. We all know someone who has a problem with alcohol in varying degrees. We know what it is like to see that person in the throes of an alcohol high and in the depths of a hangover. I know how I wish that person who matters to me would only go into rehab and get better. Dry gives me a different perspective seeing the alcoholic's life from the inside, as it were. It's not what I expected. Being made cognizant of the reasoning of the alcoholic from inside his brain was a dizzying ride. Then to go through rehab with him, his fears and hopes a part of your thinking, is an eye-opener.

When least expected, the author's wit triumphs and makes everything manageable. To be able to see the humor in an impossible situation is a true gift. Possibly a life-saving one.

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