Burroughs likes to talk about himself. He talks about himself long and he talks about himself often. Magical Thinking is his third book about himself. Although I haven’t read them, I do know that Running with Scissors and Dry are memoirs, the former about his years living with his mother’s psychiatrist and the latter about his alcoholism. Magical Thinking is a series of essays about his life, ranging from a Tang commercial shot in his elementary school and following (chronologically, it appears) to life with his partner Dennis and their dog Bentley.
I picked up Magical Thinking because my local library only has two of Burroughs’ books and the other was checked out. And it took just three (entertaining) visits to the library to read the entire collection. I felt (and probably looked) like a crazy person sitting in the back of the library giggling or grinning, pleased as a pig in shit to be reading that particular book at that particular moment, utterly entertained by it. Burroughs has a lot of great stories to tell from his life, or maybe he just knows how to elevate the mundane, and he tells them (for the most part) to great effect. It’s easily the funniest book I’ve read in months.
Burroughs occasionally falters; he’s a good writer, but not a great one. His stories are wonderful so long as they’re in progress, but his endings often fall apart rather than drawing to an effective close. I often felt as if he were stretching for a punchy or insightful closing paragraph, but too often he comes across as forced, contrived or bordering on nonsensical.
Weak closing paragraphs aside, I’m happy I read this book. I had no intentions this summer of reading anything not already in my To Be Read pile, but it was a great start to my summer reading, and Burroughs’ other books have already been added to my mental To Be Bought list. Someday, someday....Continua