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A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father [Paperback]

Augusten Burroughs , Patti Smith , Sea Wolf , Ingrid Michaelson , Tegan Quin
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 31 2009

Nominated for the 2009 Audiobook of the Year

“As a little boy, I had a dream that my father had taken me to the woods where there was a dead body. He buried it and told me I must never tell. It was the only thing we’d ever done together as father and son, and I promised not to tell. But unlike most dreams, the memory of this one never left me. And sometimes…I wasn’t altogether sure about one thing: was it just a dream?”

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. 

Betrayal after shocking betrayal ensued, and Augusten’s childhood was over. The kind of father he wanted didn’t exist for him. This father was distant, aloof, uninterested…

And then the “games” began.

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.

 


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A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father + Dry: A Memoir + Magical Thinking: True Stories
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From Amazon

Amazon Best of the Month, April 2008: When I started reading A Wolf at the Table, I thought I knew what to expect. Augusten Burroughs captures intense experience with an inexplicably cool remove, imparting a stillness and purity to emotions that would likely run amok in anyone else's hands. I love this quality of his writing, and it's present in full force in this memoir of a childhood spent in thrall to a predatory and deeply unpredictable father. What I wasn't prepared for was the suspense--the dread-filled, nearly sonorous waiting for the worst to happen. An artful sort of bait-and-switch happens in the telling: Burroughs brings you to the brink of a terrible catharsis more than once, but the break in tension never comes. It is profoundly sad, remarkably tender, and fueled by a sense of love and reverence that only a child knows. --Anne Bartholomew

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Superb production values transform an ordinary audio into a special experience. Original songs by Patti Smith, Sea Wolf, Ingrid Michaelson and Tegan Quin (from Tegan and Sara), said to be inspired by this work, are a welcome accompaniment to Burroughs's dark relationship with his father. So, too, are the wonderful sound effects, including the cacophony of a Mexican outdoor market and frightening forest noises. The narration itself doesn't live up to the carefully orchestrated acoustical touches nor is it as good as the author's delightful audio renditions of his previous works. Burroughs reads extremely slowly, as if he is savoring every word he has written; however, the average listener will eventually cringe at the plodding pace and emphasis on every syllable. In contrast, the quick rhythms of his own younger self as well as those of his Southern parents are welcome diversions. This audio would best serve adult speakers of English as a second language brushing up on their listening skills. Native speakers will need hefty doses of caffeine to get through it. A St. Martin's hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 24).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By MD
Format:Paperback
I am a huge fan of all Burroughs' other works, but having heard mixed reviews about A Wolf At the Table, I was a bit reluctant to pick it up. But thankfully a friend gave it to me as a gift, because I loved it! It is another memoir, filling in many of the gaps about Burroughs' early life that he hasn't mentioned in his other stories. This one is more comparable to Running With Scissors in style, and is more on the serious side than the funnier/lighter Magical Thinking and Possible Side Effects. While Burroughs' father has little presence in the other stories, A Wolf At the Table brings to light his strange role in Burroughs' life and odd upbringing. Burroughs' other stories display humour towards his childhood and adult life, and a real laugh-it-off attitude; but this story had me really feeling sympathy for what he went through, and realizing the depth and seriousness of the situation.

While some parts did seem a little extreme/exaggerated, I think that just represents how much of an effect his father's behaviour had on him.

Kudos to Augusten Burroughs for turning his strange childhood into a great story that will entertain and amaze many!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful and Very Real April 29 2008
Format:Hardcover
As a huge fan of Augusten Burrough books, I looked forward to reading A Wolf at the Table. This book is quite different than his others, it is a serious and passionate memoir and his life with his father.

The first paragraph was enough to draw me into the book and Burrough's life. From the beginning, the tension is almost unbearable as facts about his father are slowly revealed.

The awfulness that was his father and the thoughts of the young Burroughs makes this book memorable and powerful.

I found this passage particularly poignant. When Burrough's was five years old, he went to Mexico with his mother. He meets a man and writes: "But he adored me and I knew it. This was a new, euphoric sensation. My first taste of a drug. I wanted more."

By the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read, impossible to put down July 20 2008
Format:Hardcover
It is true that this book may have been therapeutic for the author, I somehow doubt that it has eased his pain. This books captures the essence of mental abuse --- from the subtlest nuances to the most blatant whacks of a psychological hammer.

Mr. Burroughs is an incredible writer; he captures our most complex human experiences in the turn of a phrase or an artful metaphor with a clarity second to none I've read in a long while.
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