Augusten Burroughs (3 stars)

Possible Side Effects (Atlantic Books)


It’s queerly satisfying to know that other gay men lead equally uninspiring and uninspired lives, where mopping up dog pee, checking on eBay bids and having bad dates are the highlights of the day. Augusten Burroughs’ new book, a collection of short biographical stories, begins with such banal events, written with an attempt at wit that frequently falls flat on its slightly smug face.

The first quarter bears a fair amount of good old-fashioned homo misogyny: women are ‘dykes’, ‘shrews’, and ‘bitches’ who wear ‘come-fuck-me-pumps’, but by the middle of the anthology Burroughs’ confessional soul-searching manages to save the book from being thrown at the wall. The tone is more serious, yet entertaining, with tales of alcoholism, pornographic road rage, pattern-cutting and animal misuse.

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