FLARE recently caught up with Augusten Burroughs, the best-selling author of Running with Scissors and Dry, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto to discuss his latest heart-wrenching memoir, A Wolf at the Table. The book revolves around his tumultuous relationship with his late father and gives readers further insight into how Burroughs has overcome his difficult past.
F: What made you want to become a memoirist?
A: Before I could write, I would speak into a tape recorder and tell it about my day because I didn’t have adults in my life to talk to. Children need to share and exchange and feel validation. I think that’s the genesis of why I became a memoirist in the first place.
F: Is it strange for you to sit down and talk to people who already know so much about you from your books?
A: No everyone thinks ‘this is going to be so awkward’ so they make it not awkward.
F: Do readers know as much about you as they think they do?
A: Every memoir is like the tip of an iceberg. There’s so much more under the surface, but it’s more of the same.
F: Is writing your therapy?
A: A memoir’s job is to transform the author and the reader. Each book has helped me fall even more into place with peace.
F: How would you describe your readers?
A: 19-year-old smart girls with glasses and their boyfriends, moms and dads.
F: Do they relate to your experiences?
A: With this book more than ever. So many people can relate to having a terrible father.
F: What advice would you give to your father?
A: My father couldn’t accept advice. I believe he had a problem in his brain, I think he was missing something human.
F: Do you still speak to your mother?
A: My mother gave me away when I was a little boy and she didn’t get me back. It would be a nice resolution to have a reunion on Oprah, but it’s not going to happen.
F: Are you happy in terms of where you are right now?
A: I don’t know if I’m a happy person. There’s always something missing. Maybe that’s my addictive nature. But, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, on most days.
F: What was the pivotal moment that set you free from addiction?
A: When I realized that I was going to die from my alcoholism. It bothered me that I had never even tried to write. A week and a half after thinking that I sat down and wrote two sentences that made me laugh. And, I hadn’t laughed for a year and a half since my friend Pete from Dry died. I just kept writing and writing. By the fourth day I was no longer drinking and by the seventh day I had finished a book.