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Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Lust & Wonder, by Augusten Burroughs

How does an attractive, famous, best-selling author remain in a ten year relationship that doesn’t feed his soul? How does somebody who’s been through rehab, therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, and years of ‘brutal honesty from strangers’ that accompany his book launches, manage to overlook the obvious? He is deeply in love with someone other than the man he lives with. The man he lives with finds him annoying, much of the time. They are not a good match. They don’t complement one another. Neither of them is happy.

If you are like me, and you take a while, (years/decades) to ‘get’ stuff, Lust & Wonder is a heart-warming exploration of magical thinking, wilful blindness, avoidance, cognitive dissonance. We lie to ourselves until we get too sick to lie. Then the chaos of change, the disruption of the status quo, painful as it is, unfurls as we get out of our own way. His dreams knew the truth. His body never lied. It was his mind that went around in circles.

Augusten Burroughs has described the years he spent with his former partner as wasted years. I cannot agree. Those years produced Lust & Wonder. Those years were preparation for his current relationship with his agent and publicist. Those years have produced his best book since Dry. This man is an immense talent. Out of his nine books, Dry and Lust & Wonder are my favourites. A Wolf at the Table I can read only in small doses. I am left lurching after only a few pages. Dry and Lust & Wonder are easier to digest.

Thank you, Augusten, for putting yourself out there. You are indefatigable, relentless and persistent. I wish you well in your marriage with Christopher Schelling. I am counting the days till your next book.

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