1.04.2009

Magical Thinking: True Stories by Augusten Burroughs

This was an awkward read for me. Augusten's life is so different from mine and his meanness disturbed me. I didn't like it in the same way that I didn't like Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone, which is probably my most-hated book ever.

The difference is that Wally Lamb's books was fiction, and Augusten Burroughs' book is not. So, whether I like it or not, Burroughs lives his life and has the courage to put it into print, and I have to grant some credit for that.

Yes, Magical Thinking: True Stories is funny. Yes, it was intriguing. I felt a bit like a tourist reading it. Much in the same way that I was an embarrassed sojourner whilst reading certain parts of Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex or whist walking around Amsterdam's sadly fascinating red-light district. Augusten's life is sordid and mean and he doesn't seem to notice or mind. I felt sad after reading his book.

One of my Christmas gifts was Oliver Van DeMille's A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century, which came highly recommended from my cousin (who is a published poet you know). I will review the whole book later, but for know I want to share with you the four classifications of stories: bent, broken, whole, and healing.
A. Bent stories portray evil as good and good as evil. Such stories are meant to enhance the evil tendencies of the reader, such as pornography and many horror books and movies. The best decision regarding Bent stories is to avoid them like the plague.

B. Broken stories portray accurately evil as evil and good as good, but evil wins. Something is broken, not right, in need of fixing. Such books are not uplifting (in the common sense of the word), but can be transformation in a positive way. Broken stories can be very good for the reader if they motivate him or her to heal them, to fix them. The Communist Manifesto is a broken classic; so are and The Lord of the Flies and 1984, In each of these, evil wins; but they have been very motivating to me because I have felt a real need to help reverse their impact in the real world.

C. Whole stories are where good is good and good wins. Most of the classics are in this category, and readers should spend most of their time in such works.

D. Healing stories can be either Whole or Broken stories where the reader is profoundly moved, changed, or significantly improved by her reading experience.

Magical Thinking: True Stories? Broken.

~Suzanne

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