Augusten Burroughs is one of those authors for whom I rush out on the release date and buy whatever they have written. “Possible Side Effects” was no exception. With his past books, I tore through them like a fat lady at an all-you-can eat buffet. However, this one lacked that passion for me.

“Possible Side Effects” is a collection of short stories from the popular memoirist. Some of the stories are from his childhood, others from his adult alcoholic years, and some from his recovering alcoholic days.  Sometimes hysterical, sometimes heart-felt, and sometimes contrived and uninteresting, the book left me unimpressed. The stories were hit and miss with me.

In the wake of James Frey’s Oprah fiasco, the author is quick to note in the beginning that some things have been “expanded and changed.” Maybe this got in the way of the normal flow of his writing, or maybe he’s just out of material. When in the past his writing portrayed a hysterical and gifted storyteller, the author came across as extremely self-absorbed and desperate at times. I hope that Burroughs hasn’t run out of fresh ideas. Most of the experiences in this book we’ve heard told better before in his previous books.

If you haven’t read “Running with Scissors” or “Dry” – go pick those up in paperback. They are some of my favorite books of all times. This attempt is not a horrible book, but not up the previous standards Burroughs has set for himself. I would wait for paperback on this one if I were you.  Instead run out to see the “Running with Scissors” movie in the fall, I’ll be first in line.

“Possible Side Effects” is available at local bookstores, online and at your local library.

“Possible Side Effects”
by Augusten Burroughs
St. Martin’s Press, 291 pp., $23.95

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