Augusten Burroughs shares his holiday stories

Published November 6, 2009 8:01AM (EST)

It's not uncommon for people to say that their holidays don't live up to a Norman Rockwell painting, but Augusten Burroughs says his holidays have been "hideous."

The best-selling author of books like "Running with Scissors" and "Dry" has compiled a book of essays about those dreadful experiences called "You Better Not Cry" (St. Martin's Press, 206 pages).

Burroughs tells The Associated Press about some of his more memorable holidays, how he saves stories for the page and his future writing plans.


AP: A lot of people feel let down during the holidays.

Burroughs: Yes, I don't seek perfection in the holidays anymore so I'm less disappointed. Lower your standards a little bit. It took me many years to get that.

AP: What was your worst holiday?

Burroughs: The last chapter of the book is also the most recent. The house flooded. We almost lost the house it was so bad.

AP: Not all of your stories are gloom and doom. There's a hysterical story about waking up one morning when you were still drinking (Burroughs is a recovering alcoholic) next to a man with a Santa suit.

Burroughs: If you're me, you can wake up one morning on a beautiful bright winter day and see the sun streaming through those drapes and think, "What a gorgeous day. Look at that sunlight. I don't have drapes though do I? No, I don't. And what's that red over there? Oh, that's a Santa suit. Where might Santa be?" And, you know, there are bad holidays and then there's waking up at the Waldorf Astoria in New York next to Santa. And not knowing how you got there and kind of wishing that you saw handcuffs when you looked down because at least that would imply you had been forced.

AP: You've had a very unique life. Why reveal such personal stories that people might want to keep quiet?

Burroughs: I've had a lot of very odd or unusual experiences but I'm not odd and I never wanted them, so I react the way I do, which is not unlike how you might. You just might be a little smarter and not get yourself in the situation in the first place.

AP: You write these revealing books but are you the guy in your group of friends who always has a story to share?

Burroughs: No. I'm more reserved. I spend a lot of time alone... The people close to me don't even think about the books. Some of them have never read them.

AP: Do they worry they'll end up in your books?

Burroughs: People end up in my books because it's a story about me. It's my story and they were in it. But I've been in many situations where people around me are involved with something that I'd desperately like to write about but I can't because technically it would be like shoplifting. It would feel like wearing someone else's clothes.

AP: Do you know what your next book will be?

Burroughs: I do. It's something that will be very useful and is something I was born to write. I know what the next few will be but they could be a decade away. I don't know that I'll keep writing books. I'll always write, but I don't know that I'll do it always. That's not to say I won't or I'm thinking about it. I just don't know for how long I will.


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By Alicia Rancilio

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