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Saturday, January 23, 2010

You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas Book Review

You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas Book Review

Book Synopsis: You’ve eaten too much candy at Christmas…but have you ever eaten the face off a six-footstuffed Santa? You’ve seen gingerbread houses…but have you ever made your own gingerbread tenement? You’ve woken up with a hangover…but have you ever woken up next to Kris Kringle himself? Augusten Burroughs has, and in this caustically funny, nostalgic, poignant, and moving collection he recounts Christmases past and present—as only he could. With gimleteyed wit and illuminated prose, Augusten shows how the holidays bring out the worst in us and sometimes, just sometimes, the very, very best.

Our Take: Look, we love Augusten Burroughs here in the Book Legion offices.  He's provided us with absolute gems like 'Running With Scissors' (also a fantastic film adaptation) and 'A Wolf At the Table'.    This time he goes a little off his normal track with You Better Not Cry.  This 224 page collection of vignettes chronicles some of Burroughs' best twisted holiday memories. 

The writing isn't as consistantly strong throughout this title as it is in previous works, but the tales are fantastically entertaining and enlightening.  The specific memories and tales are great, but when Augusten gets into his ideas about the essence of the season he really hits a spark.  He recounts one holiday spent with a lover dying of AIDS and another with flooded pipes.  If you think your life sucks, and moreso your holidays, then you need to read this book.  This, like all of Burroughs' works, give us great perspective into our own problems as we see someone that has bad luck and the weight of the world on him to an extreme. 

I highly recommend this title.  It was very enjoyable and a great read.  Definately for mature audiences.

You can purchase this title on or the official St. Martin's website

Read an Exerpt from the Book: It’s not that I was an outright nitwit of a child. It’s that the things even a nitwit could do with little or no instruction often confused me. Simple, everyday sorts of things tripped me up. Stacking metal chairs, for example. Everybody in class just seemed to know exactly how to fold the seat up into the back and then nest them all together like Prin­gles potato chips. I sat on the floor for ten minutes with one of the things as if somebody had told me to just stare at it. Concentrate hard, Augusten, try and turn it into an eggplant with your mind. You can do it! The other children appeared to be born with some sort of innate knowledge, as though the action of fold­ing and stacking child-size metal school chairs was gene tically encoded within each of them, like fi nger­nails or a sigmoid colon.

I seemed to lack the ability to comprehend the obvi­ous. From the very beginning there had been warning signs.

Like every kid just starting school, I had to memo­rize the Pledge of Allegiance—something that would in many towns today be considered prayer and therefore forbidden; akin to forcing a child to drink the blood of a sacrificial goat or unfurl a Tabriz prayer rug and kneel barefoot on it while facing Mecca.

While I managed to learn the words, memorizing isn’t the same as understanding. And of course I was never tested on the meaning of the pledge. It must have sim­ply been taken for granted that even the dimmest child would easily grasp the meaning of a phrase such as I pledge allegiance, especially when that phrase was spoken while standing at strict attention and facing the Ameri­can flag, hand in a salute above the heart. There was so little room for misinterpretation. It was the Pledge of Allegiance, not Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Still. If one of the teachers had asked me to explain the meaning of those words—which I chanted parrot- minded and smiling each morning—they certainly would have been shocked to hear me admit that while I didn’t know exactly what it was about, I knew it had something to do with Pledge, the same furniture polish my mother used and that always, inexplicably, made me feel sunny. So each morning as I spoke those hallowed words, it was the bright yellow can with the glowing lem­ony scent that I pictured. what you read?  Go ahead and pick up the book!