For 'Dry'

By Karen Valby
December 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Augusten Burroughs gives one of the year’s Great Performances

Augusten Burroughs, 37, has single-handedly cut short all our whining about an inherently whiny genre. His memoir Dry, about his rapid descent into a bottle of gin as a young ad exec, proves that stories of struggle are best delivered with a wink. His fantasies (alas, unrealized) about life at a gay rehab hospital — ”Nurses will be far too holistic and nurturing to wear white polyester” — are worth the $24.95 alone.

Dry is a quick, gutsy follow-up to Burroughs’ first memoir, Running With Scissors, the ridiculously good-humored story about his circus of a childhood. And this summer, Burroughs hit a gleeful critical mass, as Dry and the Scissors paperback simultaneously landed on the New York Times best-seller list.

Lucky for us, Burroughs plans to continue sharing. (Here’s a nugget from memoir No. 3, Magical Thinking: ”More embarrassing than being raised by a crazy psychiatrist is that I am a teenage graduate of the Barbizon School of Modeling. I approached it as one would approach studies in Harvard and I was ridiculous and horrible at it!”) He’s a man unfazed by insanity. But ask Burroughs to run a mundane errand, and you’ve got yourself a party. ”Going to buy Tide is not terribly interesting to most people,” he says. ”But to me, I’m a tourist in normal life, so it’s f — -ing hysterical and funny and wonderful.”