Authors: Augusten Burroughs
Tags: #Biography & Autobiography, #Literary, #Personal Memoirs, #Novelists; American
. Copyright © 2004 by Island Road, L.L.C. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Design by Phil Mazzone
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Magical thinking / Augusten Burroughs.
1. Burroughs, Augusten. 2. Novelists, American—20th century— Biography. I. Title.
First Edition: October 2004
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
OME NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED
It takes an awful lot of work by a large number of people to turn what I write into a book. My deepest gratitude and thanks to: Jennifer Enderlin, Christopher Schelling, Sally Richardson, John Sargent, John Murphy, Gregg Sullivan, Frances Coady, John Cunningham, Matthew Shear, Matt Baldacci, George Witte, Carrie Hamilton Jones, Nancy Trypuc, Darin Keesler, Kim Cardascia, Edward Allen, Nicole Liebowitz, James Sinclair, Steve Snider, Steve Cohen, Christina Harcar, Kerry Nordling, Alison Lazarus, Jeff Capshew, Ken Holland, Merrill Bergenfeld, Andy LeCount, Tom Siino, Mark Kohut, Rob Renzler, and the entire Broadway sales force. Much appreciation to Dan Peres at
magazine. And the folks at NPR’s
A few pieces in this collection originally ran on Salon.com in an earlier form, and I thank them for letting me publish them here. Thank you, Ryan Murphy and Mark Bozek. And thank you, Chip Kidd, for your beautiful covers. And K, what can I even say? I’d beat up anybody for you. With love for: John, Judy, Bob and Relda Robison, Haven Kimmel, Lawrence David, Suzanne Finnamore, Lynda Pearson, Millie Olson, Russell Nuce, Jon Pepoon, John DePretis, and Lori Greenberg. I am so happy to be in contact with David Machowski and Greg Fanslow again. Gratitude to Dr. Janet Zayas for suggesting the title of this book. And very special thanks to Norm Vexler for building us a beautiful, beautiful home, perfect to within 1/100th of an inch. Most of all, I want to thank Dennis Pilsits for just everything.
: A schizotypal personality disorder attributing to one’s own actions something that had nothing to do with him or her and thus assuming that one has a greater influence over events than is actually the case.
hen I was seven, I was plucked from my uneventful life deep in darkest Massachusetts and dropped into a Tang Instant Breakfast Drink commercial. It was exactly like being abducted by aliens except without the anal probe. I was a lonely kid with entirely imaginary friends. I played with trees.
Then, one day during penmanship class, a white van pulled up in front of our little gray schoolhouse, and the men from Tang climbed out.
My elementary school sat atop a low grassy hill in the center of Shutesbury, a small New England town that was so “small New England town” one had the sensation of existing within a snow globe at a souvenir shop. The mailboxes at the local post office had ornate brass doors with etched-glass windows. There was a
white church with solid mahogany pews and a pipe organ. A small red library was tucked on the edge of the town square and carried books about local birds and field mice. It was retchingly quaint.
Of course, in this wholesome idyllic community, my school was the anchor. It was a gray clapboard building, two stories tall, with shutters. There was a steeple on top and inside a bell that worked. The door was bright red. There were two apple trees on either side. The playground consisted of a sandbox, two swing sets, and an area of blacktop on which was painted a hopscotch outline.
Now that I am an adult and have wasted much of my life as an advertising executive, I can easily imagine the conversation that must have taken place among the occupants of that van, upon their seeing my schoolhouse.
“So Cronkite was grilling the guy, you know? Just really asking the tough questions. Then they cut away to Nixon, and boy oh boy, you should have seen his face. It was li—
“Jesus fucking Christ, Mitch. Get a load of that.”