“When Augusten Burroughs was small, his father was a shadowy presence in his life: a form on the stairs, a cough from the basement, a silent figure smoking a cigarette in the dark. As Augusten grew older, something sinister within his father began to unfurl. Something dark and secretive that could not be named.
With A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs makes a quantum leap into untapped emotional terrain: the radical pendulum swing between love and hate, the unspeakably terrifying relationship between father and son. Told with scorching honesty and penetrating insight, it is a story for anyone who has ever longed for unconditional love from a parent. Though harrowing and brutal, A Wolf at the Table will ultimately leave you buoyed with the profound joy of simply being alive. It’s a memoir of stunning psychological cruelty and the redemptive power of hope.”
This is the last book that I had to read of the memoirs of Burroughs. It was drastically different from the other books. There was still humor, but it wasn’t the cool, dark humor that Burroughs is known for instead it is a dark, cruel humor at times. This book clearly hit really close to home. With the tone of this book it is made clear that Burroughs has not completely worked through his issues with his father which makes it feel more like the reader is inside Burroughs’s mind more than ever.
The book has some scenes that were so emotionally raw that it hurt to read. One such scene is where his dad calls and says he is coming to kill Burroughs. Burroughs is a young child thrown into this horrible situation while he is home alone. He panics. The feeling of this scene is that this was a very memorable moment of his childhood is everywhere.
Another scene was section about the guinea pig. Burroughs and his mom leave the house because it is “dangerous” to be home. He wants to take his guinea pig, but his mom assures him that his father will take care of him. I ended up sick to my stomach and feeling rage I have not felt in years over this.
What really sells this book to me is that Burroughs is not black and white about his father. He clearly loves his father, but doesn’t want to at the same time. The conflict of his feelings is so deep and raw. This is a book that is not for the faint of heart. This is probably the most powerful and emotional books that Burroughs has written yet.
5 out of 5 stars. I would highly recommend this book. I will probably read it again.
You can buy the book here.