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Augusten Burroughs’s memoir, “Dry,” is an unflinching look at one alcoholic’s crooked journey towards an unsure sobriety. Told in the first person, Burroughs takes us down a dark and harrowing path recounting his life as a strung out, well paid ad executive who is forced to accept treatment for his drinking problem or lose his job. It’s an interesting concept, the forced epiphany, and one Burroughs doesn’t take too much time to ponder. Some people have epiphanies, and others simply have epiphany thrust upon them.

Criticized by some for this fictional slant and applauded by others, “Dry” sparks a debate that asks us to take a hard look at what genre the memoir really falls into. fiction, non fiction or creative non fiction? Truman Capote created the creative non fiction genre with his horrific yet journalistic story about the murder of the Clutter family in his book “In Cold Blood.” No one before had taken a real event and fictionalized it, so that while the plot points remained, like rungs on a ladder, the open air between the points were filled with Capote’s own thoughts and ideas, though subjective they may be.

Some of Burroughs’ strongest scenes and characters are made up. The woman who stands up in support group and says that even though she found a lump in her breast in the shower one morning and is living on borrowed time, she would “rather have this one day sober than a whole lot of days drunk,” is made up. This immediately makes the reader wonder, what else is made up? What is true? But then the story sweeps you along, and the very real sentiments of the book come through, and in the end, like with all good stories, you forget to wonder, and you just read.
collegiate club water polo Fiction in Augusten Burroughs' memoir