Okay, so I just finished Magical Thinking, by Augusten Burroughs.
Well, when I say “finished”, I mean I just finished page 243 out of a possible 268. Believe it or not, unlike books that I’ve gotten twenty or thirty pages into and decided to bail because I didn’t think I would enjoy them, I got conned into getting 90.6716% of the way into this one before I finally admitted defeat. Can this Burroughs fellow write? Sure. Can he turn a phrase that will make you chuckle? Sure. Can he go at least three paragraphs without playing the gay card? No chance in hell.
Now don’t get me wrong — I’ve got nothing against being gay. And plenty of the writers that I enjoy are gay (see, e.g., Marc Acito, the “Gay Dave Barry”). That’s not the point. The point is that I somehow got tricked into reading this because I expected it to be the best David Sedaris book written by someone other than David Sedaris. And it’s not. My problem with Burroughs (at least with respect to this, the only book of his that I’ve read), is that the first four stories of this book are anecdotal, fairly humorous tales of his growing up, and don’t have anything to do with his sexuality. The next twenty (of the remaing twenty-three) have very little in the way of funny, Dave Barry/Al Frankenesque anecdotale humor, but rather, are uninteresting tales of who-cares-about kind of stuff that are totally, gratuitously sprinkled — nay, drenched — with references to the fact that Mr. Burroughs is gay. Again, I honestly don’t give a damn about his sexuality; the fact is that the first few stories were entertaining enough that I kept reading for way too long in the hopes that he would revert to the style of the first few stories. Instead, by the tenth story (let alone the twentieth), he had forgotten how to tell a tale that would mean something or resonate with your average Joe, and I was hoping he (or one of his partners) would get hit by a bus. And that, my friends, would be magical thinking.