Some people just really don't like Augusten Burroughs. One reason- his entire image can essentially be summed up as "a guy who made a bunch of mistakes and now makes millions writing memoirs about it." I believe Burroughs would even attest to that certain breakdown as being basically accurate, but of course, this is a bit more to it. Of cooourse...
Yet as many individuals think Burroughs is a flaming hack with the writing credibility of a grandmother's soap opera fanfiction, some think he speaks the raw truth and touches hearts. Despite an opinion of disgust for Burroughs (who can be seen to package his personal extremely deep troubles into an easily digestible bestseller), he touches people across the globe- people who have run into problems of their own find common ground beyond the often absurd nature of Burroughs own very specific problems.
I find no fault in writing easily approachable memoirs about one’s own life, even if they appear to a lowest common denominator. So Burroughs takes his entire approach into the literal form of This is How. This is How is, at the surface, an advice book. But it doesn't tell you how to do things in a literal matter, as it tells you how to THINK.
This is How can be a deeply effective book for those who despise traditional self-help books. But I only really think this is How is an effective read if one is already extensively familiar with Burroughs previous work. You relate to him as a person as opposed to some pseudo-intellectual offering often bizarre advice for fame and notoriety. Burroughs is most definitely not achieving that here, at least not directly.
On one hand, who wants life advice written from a non-psychologist memoirist? I mean- who IS this guy to tell others how to think? Yet, if one is familiar with Burroughs, they understand
And then maybe they can understand the further step that anyone who has experience with something, can offer concrete and often advisable knowledge and advice about it.
This is How touches on topical pieces and situations without ever resorting to clichés. His insight is purposeful and often contrary to what is commonly believed. And when I mean commonly, I mean just about everyone. Burroughs doesn't take the majority road here in many instances. Yet for those who respect Burroughs and have read his material, you will find an instant commonality and comfort in reading what Burroughs has to see without the direct lens of his own personal story. Burroughs is in a position to help, and if you have followed him this far, there is no reason to not follow him further into the dark realities of life. Life isn't easy- no one is pretending it is- but it is not in Burroughs best interest to offer advice that is not based on some tried-and-true understanding of reality. because where you may have had troubles and problems and personal dilemmas- so has everyone else- so has Augusten Burroughs. That is humanizing, and that makes for a highly engaging book about humanity and love and life and all the things we encounter every day that can and maybe will absolutely ruin us as people. And maybe that's ok- maybe that's what life is, and we need our hand held just to get through the horror with as much as our soul intact as possible. The answer to how is in understanding the pain, and being able to take that for what it is.
Burroughs may be writing a book to fulfill any sort of other outside reason (contractual obligation, shed demons, boredom), but this book works for those who trust in companionship and can possible see Augusten Burroughs as their literary companion. His thoughts on death, love, life, and self-identity are capable of opening up a non-traditionalism in yourself than could astonish your own future choices and "hows."