By Tim Stack
Updated October 28, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Christmas season is all about hanging decorations, eating elaborate feasts, and spending time with family. Or, in Augusten Burroughs’ case, manipulating his parents into buying him things, drinking himself unconscious, and having a one-night stand with a senior Santa Claus. In You Better Not Cry, a collection of autobiographical vignettes, the Running With Scissors author unleashes his dark wit on holiday memories. ”And Two Eyes Made Out of Coal” recounts his inability to bake a normal gingerbread house: ”It looked nonresidential…. It was almost like I had baked a scene from the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.” Exaggerated? Oh, probably. But the book is still a welcome antidote to standard holiday treacle. B+

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