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