Lust & Wonder (Memoir #3), by Augusten Burroughs

Nine stars

In the final volume of his personal memoir, Burroughs explores matters of the heart. Readers of the previous volumes will know the difficult personal journeys Burroughs has explored through writing; daunting struggles as a youth and battling alcohol addiction. While those journeys may not be something to which all readers can relate, the struggle to find love is one that many will have faced, even if each person has their own narrative. Burroughs recounts of an early love that began strong and blossomed, only to fade when the compatibility waned and fidelity became an issue. From there, the journey took him into a relationship that had not only merit, but also longevity; one that could have been ‘the one’ and, for a time, might certainly have been. However, when issues arise and are shelved, leaving a stagnant sludge, love can (and usually does) wither, leaving both parties husks of their former selves. While it was a painful struggle, the epiphany that Burroughs undertook led him to love himself most and to choose Augusten over a life of shattered dreams and ill-fitting awkward pauses. When he resurfaced, somewhat an awakening in and of itself, Burroughs was faced with a decision that his heart had made long ago, but his brain was only now coming to realise. With a humourous narrative to offset some of the painful truths to which many readers can relate, the book offers a well-rounded approach to the man and his innermost thoughts. It also permits the reader to get a better understanding of how Burroughs got into advertising and eventually writing, which is sure to pique the curiosity of some who have fallen in love with Augusten Burroughs in their own way. Not to be missed, but best read after RUNNING WITH SCISSORS and DRY.

Of the three memoirs, this one speaks most personally to Burroughs and a set of inner struggles to which the reader can relate. It superimposes a collection of sentiments that many have faced in their lives and personalises them, to the point that the reader can walk away and feel that much closer to Burroughs. I felt myself saying, ‘yes that reminds me of a issue I faced with X’ or ‘I remember when Y left me wondering the same thing’. While painful realities permeated throughout RUNNING WITH SCISSORS and DRY offered hope and despair in equal measure, this instalment, by no means the end to Burroughs’ life, offers a piece that connects it all together. There is hope after such darkness, though perfection through emotional attrition is never achieved. The narrative pulls no punches and forces the reader to wade deeply into rawness, but it is the fine-tuning of fourteen years of writing that leaves Burroughs finally able to push through to these most sensitive areas and make the most of them. 

I would be remiss not to offer sincere thanks to Rae Eddy at this point, yet again. While the previous two books were her way of introducing me to Augusten Burroughs and helping me develop an addiction, it is this final volume that spoke most to me, especially as it relates to her. I have been through the trenches and seen my fair share of detritus. To have found her at the end of all this, when the dust settles, leaves me no doubt that I had to reach this life and reading journey only to find her smiling face at the end. I owe much to her and am eternally grateful that she stuck it out, both as I found her and discovered Augusten’s magic of the written word.

Kudos, Mr. Burroughs for this powerful end to the personal memoir. I look forward to returning to devour some of your other work soon, offering more praise where it is due.