4.5 stars Dry
is the best piece on addiction and alcoholism I've ever read. Augusten Burroughs is one of the best memoirists writing today; his writing is concise and compulsively readable. He sacrifices his likability for the sake of his narrative, which to me is the mark of a good memoirist; he doesn't sugarcoat himself. He also manages to be hilarious while simultaneously dredging the miserable depths of human experience.
I didn't give it the full 5 stars because it suffers from the usual pitfalls of the memoir genre. Augusten definitely embellishes his story, but that is a given in this genre, and if you don't like that then this is one of the authors you'll want to stay away from. However, there's a difference between embellishing the story and making up the facts. An example I'd give for contrast is James Frey's A Million Little Pieces
, which was also focused on his substance addiction and rehabilitation, which I rated 1 star, due not only to the atrocious writing but to the complete fabrication of facts. The key difference between those two memoirs is honesty, tastefulness and skill, things in which Frey has none and Burroughs has in abundance.
I would say this is Burroughs best work. Running With Scissors
will give you background on the author's childhood, but it's not a necessary prologue, and he skims over the important details in several italicized paragraphs. If I were to recommend a book to someone who has struggled with substance abuse, which I usually don't due to the fear that the graphic nature of said books will be in any way triggering to them, this is the book I would choose.