My choice for my Rainbow Flag bingo space is Augusten Burroughs’ Lust and Wonder, another memoir from the author of Running With Scissors, Dry, and Magical Thinking. I love Burroughs’ earlier books, and there are flashes of brilliance here, but I think that this reads more like a diary than a cohesive book.
Burroughs writes here about relationships both failed and successful, and his pattern of allowing his anxiety and neuroses to have him fall into familiar patterns of denying his feelings and attempting to redirect them onto others that are ostensibly more appropriate. His romantic relationships, real estate choices, and overspending all fall into the same trap of trying to want something rather than actually wanting them. The problem is the structure of the book doesn’t quite support this larger point, and Burroughs meanders without much narrative structure. It’s harder to make out the pattern amongst asides about new medication prescriptions or dull friends, which is frustrating because it’s all so close to coming together; with just a little bit more editing the distractions could support the whole.
That said, as always, Burroughs can absolutely nail the details, and his descriptions are second to none. I immediately knew I had to quote this the second I read it: “The thing was, I felt he was so judgmental about everything that it was difficult to pluck a mere example out of the air to serve as evidence. It was like trying to prove we were in the midst of a sunny day. ‘Well, we just are. I mean; look‘.” Tell me you haven’t felt EXACTLY like that at some point.
At this point, I really want to read some travel writing from Burroughs, some kind of creative non fiction that doesn’t revolve around him, because I think he’s lost the forest for the trees a bit, which he even acknowledges in the text. He’s got a great eye for detail, and is an amazing writer, but I think he needs to turn that focus outward to really make a point.