Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Obviously, I am a huge fan of Augusten Burroughs. I might say that he is my favorite writer, although it is hard for me to put such a solid stamp on that. I find him amusing and honest about life which is oftentimes refreshing.
If you do like Burroughs or enjoy his work, visit his website at www.augusten.com.
On his website, you can read his BLOB which is basically like a blog where he posts thoughts and comments about his life. You can check out his six books and see what readers think. You can become updated on future projects of his: a new holiday book coming out in October called You Better Not Cry and A Wolf at the Table and Sellevision will soon become major motion pictures). The site lists events (where he'll be touring), news, about his life, photo galleries, merchandise, links, top tens, and it even has a link to his MySpace page which is also very interesting to look at.
You can even contact him, and he writes back to some of his fans.
You could navigate this site for hours and never get bored, especially if you consider yourself a Burroughs fan.
If you aren't convinced to visit the website, to read one of his books, or become a fan, check out the following segment. I HAD to include it in this post because I find it very interesting and wise. The following is a post that Burroughs wrote back to someone who admitted to once being homophobic but being opened up after reading Burroughs' works.
You can read the post on his website here.
a post by Augusten Burroughs
"Recently, a reader posted a note on my Facebook page that stunned me with its honesty. The reader confessed to having always been a bit "homophobic" and went on to say that reading my books had "opened [their] eyes." At the end of the note the reader said this: "I just wanted to say...thank you. I see people differently now and feel as maybe I just might be starting to crawl out from under the rock I've obviously sheltered myself under for so long. Just from what you've written, you share the same feelings, commitment, love...that I thought could only be truly shared between a man and a woman.”
Far from being offended, I was honored to receive such a note. Honesty is always a relief. What's more, I could relate to what she said because I had experienced similar feelings myself. So I posted my reply.
The other day, Drew The Website Guy came across this exchange and said I should post it to the blog. Whatever Drew The Website Guy says to do, I do. So here it is:
Thank you for the huge compliment. Or -ments, really.
And most of all, thanks for sharing something so personal and for being so honest, even though it might not be politically correct here in circa 2008.
I think many -probably most- people in America feel the same way. Maybe some of this majority have grown “tolerant” of “the gays” but even they probably don't know any gay people and really wouldn't want to. They might be “fine” with the idea of the gays being allowed to have jobs and apartments, aside from any involving children, but they certainly don't want them to “advertise” their lifestyle choices to the world.
This is why gay marriage is disallowed by most states and is being repealed in others. To moral, ethical everyday folks, allowing the gays to marry would almost be like allowing dogs to marry; it makes a parody of something we hold nearly sacred. It violates the sanctity of marriage. It perverts, even, the very tradition and all that it stands for. Two men? A girl and a girl? It's a frank insult. (See my upcoming BLOB feature on this very subject)
I can understand this mindset because it is one that I have held myself. For many years, I had only contempt for Christians. All seemed intellectually diseased, an actual cancer upon the growing bones of evolution itself. But then, of course they were -they didn't even believe in evolution. Their scientific explanation for everything was that a man lived in the sky and made everything in a week. “It says so right here,” they added, pointing to the best-selling back-list title in the history of publishing.
I saw these millions of Americans as little more than viruses that could operate parking meters and speak a hobbled form of English.
The Christians I saw on television all seemed unnaturally obsessed with sex -specifically, homosexuality. Angry, even furious people on some sort of mission to cleanse society from what they described as “an evil.”
Which, to me, was exactly like starting a war with the Right Handed.
At a certain point in my life, if the United States government had announced that all the Christians needed to be rounded up and placed into transport vehicles so they could be brought to processing stations where they would be sorted -some used for labor, others simply exterminated- I would have been like, “Great!.”
Now, when I say this, I do not say it as a joke. I would have said, “Great!”
Even though technically? I didn't know any Christians. But I had seen “them” on television and I had read a little about their Corn-God beliefs, their disapproval of my innate right-handedness and enough of them had been caught in a financial or sex scandal for me to know that the entire lot of them was fundamentally corrupt; ruined. Better, then, to dispose of them.
Then I wrote a book. It was a memoir about my vile childhood. And we all knew -my agent, publisher and I myself- that like twenty people would read it: ten in Manhattan, another ten in California.
But that isn't what happened. And before I knew it, I was checking into a hotel room with a Magnolia tree out the window and three churches across the street. I was near the buckle of the bible belt and I was here to meet my readers.
Many were excited to tell me they'd never met an actual gay before and certainly never read a book written by one.
The next year, it would be straight guys. They would come in massive numbers for DRY. They would tell me they had no idea the book had been written by a gay guy. They thought it was a book only about alcoholism. Had they known, many said, they wouldn't have read it.
Over and over I heard the same thing you have said to me here: “(Y)ou share the same feelings, commitment, love...that I thought could only be truly shared between a man and a woman...”
I will tell you that this was not my plan. I have given less thought to my sexual orientation than I have to my right-handedness. In fact, as a child I tried to become a leftie.
But I never tried to become straight.
In later years, I would tour America -when it was divided into two colors -red and blue- during the most heated and potentially derailing election in American history. This is where I learned that republicans and democrats are exactly like Christians and Mormons; impossible to categorize.
Make no mistake: I continue to loathe people right and left. But I tend not to loathe entire populations.
They key was getting to know just one of “them.”
Something pretty awful happened a couple of years ago and it was a local Christian woman who came to our rescue. Never mind that it was early morning and she had family and work responsibilities; she tossed her coffee and came running to help us.
It wasn't even all she did for us; it was how she did what she did. The way she acted as though she had been born, just for this moment. Almost like she had trained for it. I wish I could go into all the details but it's a very long story. Suffice it to say that she brought me more than just her best help that day; she brought grace into our home and she left it with us.
I tried and tried to thank her. She insisted that she had done nothing special, indeed, nothing at all. She would not accept “thanks” for something that to her should be as freely given as water -that something being her best self.
She had simply treated us the way she hoped somebody would would treat her. As a Christian woman with very strong beliefs, what other choice did she have? It was who she was to make herself so freely available and so selfless.
As a remedial “thank you” I went shopping at Tiffany for the most beautiful cross I could find and I bought it for her. It seemed a cheap excuse for what I wanted to say, which was inexpressible.
So now I know: Always have a Christian friend.
We are, all of us, very different. But mathematically we are the same.
When you are sitting on the sofa at eleven PM rolling your eyes at the absurd show this person you allegedly love has insisted on watching -when any reasonable person knows the only good show is seventeen channels to the right- does it truly and deeply matter that this person also has hairy arms? Or that you both wear the same sized bra?
It really doesn't matter. Not to the couple sitting on the sofa. They have forgotten they are “gay.”
Do you , after all, watch television or drive your car or take a shower, 'as a woman'?
No. You just. You take a shower. You drive your car. Only if somebody were to say, “But you are a woman driving a car,” would you pause and say, “I suppose that's true. I am a woman driving a car.”
That somebody could find this interesting, even remarkable or contemptible will always be -to you- one of the great mysteries of the universe.
Thanks again, Jodi.
So what do you think of Burroughs' website or his work?