How to Deal: Augusten Burroughs talks his new "self-help" book, the 'Running With Scissors' controversy, and the fact that shit. just. happens.

At 47 years old, Augusten Burroughs has reincarnated himself from the anxiety-addled teen of Running with Scissors to the cocksure ad man plagued by addiction of Dry to the award-winning - sober - author he is today. And he's learned a thing or two along the way, the best of which he shares in his new book This Is How, a self-help manual that offers practical advice like "how to be fat" and "how to ride an elevator."

Growing up, he says, "I was living in a island of my own, in a way, so I had to reinvent the wheel every time I had a problem. Now that I'm so much older, I look around and I think that some of my wheels just worked better, and I wanted to put them in a book." Burroughs stresses that there's a central theme behind those wheels: truth. "You can be a very honest person and yet not be living a truthful life because you haven't thought to question the circumstances you've always existed underneath," he says. "Nothing is sacred, in terms of your life. You've got to be able to examine everything freshly so you can examine everything honestly."

This, of course, raises the pesky question on everyone's mind. What was up with those accusations the Turcottes (the family that the Finches were based upon) made that Burroughs fabricated large parts of Running With Scissors? "I had to experience the frustration of feeling the unjustness of it," he says, that frustration evident in his voice. "But it was just too motherfucking bad. It was offensive to me to be thought of as someone out there lying to make a buck, but it doesn't fucking matter that it's offensive to me. That was a big lesson to learn." Shit happens, in essence. How to deal with that shit without having a total meltdown is what Burroughs is more concerned with these days. As he sees it, dealing with all the shit that life will inevitably hurl at you comes through achieving self-awareness.

With that self-awareness comes confidence, something Burroughs struggled his whole life to attain and hopes to help readers find for themselves. "The general consensus seems to be that confidence comes from being very good at what you do," he says. "And its like, well that's not fucking true at all, because we've all seen someone who is incredibly confident, but they're horrible at what they do." Lucky for Burroughs, it's safe to say he's a man who isn't horrible at what he does, not one bit. And while being able to look at life with a sense of humor is a big part of what he does, he stresses, "At some point you're going to have to actually deal with whatever your problem is, but it doesn't have to be some sort of dry, humorless chore." That's a page from his book we could all stand to take.


August Burroughs talks about This Is How on Thursday, May 10 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St, Brookline | 6 pm | $5 |

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