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New York, NY 1991 Hard Cover First American Edition, 1st Printing Very Good in Very Good- jacket Mylared. 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. Signed by Author 251pp. Original boards. Stated First U.S. Printing: June 1991. Signed by Ellis Peters on title-page in blue ink; no inscription. Pages are clean (no writing, underlining, or highlighting). Faint stain to rear lower outer page edges. Binding is tight with no cracks or breaks. Upper front board has a small 1/4" scrape to upper edge, light rubbing to extremities. Unclipped pictorial DJ has some minor shelfwear (bumping/light creasing to head of spine, rubbing to corners). Looks nice in protective mylar covering. This is not a remainder or ex-library. Nice copy.
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A contest of wills with a deranged cleaning lady. The execution of a rodent carried out with military precision and utter horror. Telemarketing revenge. A different kind of "roof work." Dating an undertaker who drives a mini-van. This is the fabric of Augusten Burroughs's life: a collection of true stories that are universal in their appeal yet unabashedly intimate, stories that shine a flashlight into both dark and hilarious places.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Augusten Burroughs is always prepared for the worst. When Running with Scissors came out, he expected it to sell "about seven copies." Instead, this meandering self-exploration turned into a national bestseller. Even Burroughs gained optimism: "It was just great. It allowed me to continue writing and not have to publish myself at Kinko's." By the evidence of Magical Thinking, Kinko's has permanently lost a client and we have gained an engaging author. Burroughs himself describes these true stories as "weird things that have happened to me." The weird things include an epic contest of wills with a deranged cleaning lady; a story about the emotional complexity of rodent annihilation; and a cautionary history of failed first dates. Touching; twisted; absolutely magical.
Publishers Weekly
It would be tempting to call these highly personal and uninhibited essays painfully honest, except that Burroughs (Running with Scissors; Dry) is so forthright about his egocentricity that the revelations don't appear to cause him much pain. He approaches his material with a blithe tone that oozes sarcasm and crocodile tears. But the palpable humor of the writing itself endears listeners to him enough that they won't be completely repelled by even Burroughs's ugliest moments (which include his less than gallant reaction to accidentally stepping on a toddler's fingers in a store). His performance is off the cuff, but even when he's at his least humane, he still comes across as all too human. He adopts the same openness that made his previous memoirs-dealing with his bizarre upbringing and battle with addiction-so successful; now, however, he's focusing on less serious subject matter and displaying failings that are more vain. Burroughs excels in his personifications of others, whether portraying a domineering cleaning woman or an overbearing boss. While some may secretly wish for the death of such a boss, though, Burroughs admits openly and proudly that he believes he can will it to happen. That attitude, which is accentuated by his reading, makes this audiobook a true guilty pleasure. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's hardcover (Forecasts, July 12). (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Like Burroughs's earlier books (Running with Scissors; Dry) these humorous stories draw on the author's unstable childhood, work in advertising, struggle with alcoholism, and quest for fulfillment as a writer and a gay man. They treat a wide range of topics, from a gay couple's search for a summer home to homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood. Whether writing about the prevalence of steroid use by gay men or the murder of a mouse in the bathtub, Burroughs uses the same light touch. While his stories may at times shock or even disgust readers, they are redeemed in the end by laughter. Like the narrator in the title story, Burroughs wants to believe he has some control over the universe, or at least a tenuous connection to a higher power. A gifted satirist, Burroughs offers hilarity in the face of despair, and loyal readers of his earlier best sellers will welcome this new collection. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/04.]-William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib, CUNY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“There is a dusting of David Sedaris in Burroughs’s style, a laughing-through-your-tears candor that’s as appealing as the situations are appalling.”—BookPage

Praise for Dry:

“His performance blends self-deprecating black humor with wise-cracking confidence. His natural (or hard-learned) wit and charm keep the listener rooting for his success.”—AudioFile

“There’s an emotional truth that comes through here, along with a vivid prose style and a nice talent for reading in the voices of various participants in the tale. All together, it makes for a memoir well worth listening to.”—The Providence Journal

“As effective as the printed books are, the audiobook editions—which Burroughs himself presents—offer an even more sublime personal mixture of humor and revelation.” —Audiobookstoday.com

Praise for Running with Scissors:

“Burroughs’s account of his deranged adolescence is clear-eyed and often wildly funny. To hear it not only in his own words, but in his own voice in this fine production

is ideal.” —AudioFile

“The writing is exceptional, fast-paced and captivating. Ditto the narration.”—Kliatt

Augusten’s narration of his previous books received universal acclaim. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called Running with Scissors a “flawless audio adaptation of his alternately riotous and heartbreaking memoir,” describing Burroughs’s voice “as mutable and unique as his unconventional childhood.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312315948
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/5/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 0

Meet the Author

AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS is the New York Times bestselling author of Dry,
Running with Scissors, and Sellevision. He lives in New York City and Amherst, Massachusetts.


Although Augusten Burroughs achieved moderate success with his debut novel, Sellevision, it was his 2002 memoir, Running with Scissors, that catapulted him into the literary stratosphere. Indeed, few writers have spun a bizarre childhood and eccentric personal life into literary gold with as much wit and panache as Burroughs, whose harrowing accounts of dysfunction and addiction are offset by an acerbic humor readers and critics find irresistible.

Born Christopher Robison (he changed his name when he turned 18), Burroughs is the son of an alcoholic father who abandoned his family and a manic-depressive mother who fancied herself a poet in the style of Anne Sexton. At age 12, he was farmed out to his mother's psychiatrist, a deeply disturbed -- and disturbing -- man whose medical license was ultimately revoked for gross misconduct. In Running with Scissors, Burroughs recounts his life with the pseudonymous Finch family as an experience tantamount to being raised by wolves. The characters he describes are unforgettable: children of assorted ages running wild through a filthy, dilapidated Victorian house, totally unfettered by rules or inhibitions; a variety of deranged patients who take up residence with the Finches seemingly at will; and a 33-year-old pedophile who lives in the backyard shed and initiates an intense, openly homosexual relationship with the 13-year-old Burroughs right under the doctor's nose.

That he is able to wring humor and insight out of this shocking scenario is testimony to Burroughs's writing skill. Upon its publication in 2002, Scissors was hailed as "mordantly funny" (Los Angeles Times), "hilarious" (San Francisco Chronicle), and "sociologically suggestive and psychologically astute" (The New York Times). The book became a #1 bestseller and was turned into a 2006 movie starring Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, and Joseph Fienes.

[Although the doctor who "raised" Burroughs was never named in the memoir, six members of the real-life family sued the author and his publisher for defamation, claiming that whole portions of the book were fabricated. Burroughs insisted that the book was entirely accurate but agreed in the 2007 settlement to change the wording of the author's note and acknowledgement in future editions of the book. He was never required to change a single word of the memoir itself.]

Since Running with Scissors, Burroughs has mined snippets of his life for more bestsellers, including further installments of his memoir (Dry, A Wolf at the Table) and several well-received collections of razor-sharp essays. His writing continues to appear in newspapers and magazines around the world, and he is a regular contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Burroughs:

"When I was very young, maybe six or seven, I used to make little books out of construction paper and wallpaper. Then I'd sew the spine of the book with a needle and thread. Only after I had the actual book did I sit down with a pencil and write the text. I actually still have one of these little books and it's titled, obliquely, Little Book."

"Well, all of a sudden I am obsessed with PMC. For those of you who think I am speaking about plastic plumbing fixtures, I am not. PMC stands for Precious Metal Clay. And it works just like clay clay. You can shape it into anything you want. But after you fire it, you have something made of solid 22k gold or silver. So you want to be very careful. Anyway, I plan to make dog tags. So there's something."

"I'm a huge fan of English shortbread cookies, of anything English really. I very nearly worship David Strathairn. And I'm afraid that if I ever return to Sydney, Australia, I may not return."

"I will never refuse potato chips or buttered popcorn cooked in one of those thingamajigs you crank on top of the stove."

"And my politics could be considered extreme, as I truly believe that people who molest or otherwise abuse children should be buried in pits. And I do believe our country has been served by white male presidents quite enough for the next few hundred years. I really could go on and on here, so I'd best stop."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Augusten X. Burroughs
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and western Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1965
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      No formal education beyond elementary school
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Magical Thinking

By Augusten Burroughs

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2004 Island Road, L.L.C.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-312-31594-5

Chapter One

When 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."

"Huh? Oh, mother of flicking God. STOP THE VAN."

"Christ, there's even a bell on top."

"Love those trees. But are those actually apples? Christ, yes, those are apples. The client's gonna hate that. Apples clash with the orange flavor."

"So we'll cut 'em down and throw up a couple of maple trees. What's the fucking difference?"

"You know, you couldn't build a set this perfect in Burbank, you really couldn't. This is so New England schoolhouse. We have hit pay dirt, gents. I think we've got a few triple martinis ahead of us tonight."

I was sitting in Mrs. Ames's tedious penmanship class looking out the window when the white van pulled into the circular driveway. I watched as a window was rolled halfway down and two lit cigarettes were tossed out. Then the doors opened, and the men stepped out.

Mrs. Ames noticed, too, because she paused in the middle of looping a D. When she turned her ancient neck to the window, my mind added the sound effect of a branch creaking under the weight of snow before it snaps. I was quite sure that Mrs. Ames was one of the original settlers of the town. She once said that television was "nonsense, just a fad like radio."

Visitors were uncommon at our school. Especially visitors dressed in dark suits, wearing sunglasses, and carrying black briefcases. These were like the men who followed President Nixon around and whispered things in his ear.

"Remain seated and do not talk," Mrs. Ames said, glaring at us down the point of her nose. "I shall return in a moment." She quickly brushed her hands down the front of her heavy gray wool skirt to remove any wrinkles. She straightened the dainty single pearl that hung around her neck, centering it perfectly between her breasts, which were certainly bound with ace bandages beneath her crisp white shirt.

The group of men removed their sunglasses in unison, raised their chins in the air, and inhaled. I could tell they were inhaling because they slapped at their chests and flared their nostrils. It was a familiar gesture. Many of my mother's friends from New York City or Boston did the same thing when they came to Shutesbury. Personally, I could never understand why, because the air was thick with pollen and insects. If one wanted fresh air, why not just open the door to the clothes drier and stick your face in there?

One of the men approached the school, came right up to the window, and knocked on the wood next to the glass. "It's real, all right," he called back to his associates.

A moment later, Mrs. Ames joined the men outside and, to my horror, smiled. I'd never seen Mrs. Ames smile before, and the thought had never occurred to me that such an act was even possible for her. But there it was, her mouth open in the white daylight, her teeth exposed. One of the men stepped forward, removed his sunglasses, and said something to her. She touched her hair with her hand and laughed. Kimberly Plumme, who liked to insert marbles into her vagina at recess, said, "Gross." Her lips frowned in disgust. I myself was horrified to see Mrs. Ames laugh. And then blush. To see her in such a state of obvious bliss was unbearable. I had to look away.

Eventually, Mrs. Ames walked back into the room, and I watched her legs, all plump and plastic-looking through her support hose. She wore high heels of an unfashionable style that made a sharp, angry sklack against the tile floor when she walked. She was kind only to the girls. And by "kind," I mean she was not mean. She was punishing to the boys, even the prissy, girly boys like me. But for once, she had something to say that interested me.

"Children, children, may I have your attention please?" She clapped her hands together quickly. Smacksmacksmacksmacksmack.

But this was unnecessary because she already had our full attention. We'd been sitting there waiting for her, not daring to breathe lest we disturb the balance of the universe, causing her to fall and die and then not be able to tell us why the men had come to our school. Or worse: somehow cause the men to simply drive away.

"We have some very special surprise guests here today." She looked to the door and nodded, and the men entered the room. "Hi kids," they said. "Hi there, everyone."

It was thrilling to hear them speak in their deep, baritone voices and to see, up close, the dark razor stubble that shadowed their chins. At the same time, an exotic aroma entered the room, one that made me feel light-headed and flushed, like I'd been on a pogo stick. Only as an adult would I be able to name this intoxicating scent: English Leather.

Mrs. Ames continued. "These men are from New York City. And I hope you all know where New York City is. Because we have studied our geography quite a bit this year. Does everyone here know where New York City is?"

We nodded yes, but we all thought, What's the matter with you, crazy old witch? Why is your face so red?

Although it alarmed mc to recognize that my own face was red, as well. Something about the presence of the men made both Mrs. Ames and me turn red and become hot. The fact that we had this in common made me wonder what was wrong with me.

"Good. Well, then. These men are here to make a television commercial."

Here, I almost peed. She might as well have told me that as of today, I never had to come to school ever again and for that matter was free to hit anybody I wanted to, without being punished. I lived for television commercials. The only reason I watched TV was so that I could see the commercials. Faberge Organics Shampoo: "I told two friends. And they told two friends. And so on ... and so on ... and so on." Or my current favorite: "Gee, your hair smells terrific!" I was also fond of the commercial with the dog chasing the chuck wagon underneath the kitchen sink: "It makes its own rich gravy."

I watched one of the men scan the faces in the room. Occasionally he would jab his friend on the shoulder and nod in the direction of one of the students. As I was watching him he caught my eye and smiled. I thought he was a very friendly man, very nice. I admired his crisp dark suit, white shirt, and black tie. His hair was thick and glossy, combed back. I smiled at him. He nudged his friend and nodded in my direction, and then the other man looked at me. He smiled, too.

I wanted to jump up out of my seat and run to the men, hugging them around the legs. I wanted to lick the hair on their wrists.

Mrs. Ames announced to the class, "These men would like to use our schoolhouse in a commercial for their special beverage. It's called Tang. Do any of you know Tang?"

There were gasps in the room. Of course we knew Tang, the orange crystalline powder that the astronauts brought with them to outer space. I loved Tang and would sometimes eat it by the teaspoon, straight from the jar. I loved the green label, the orange lid. The way the lid was extra wide and easy to unscrew. I even liked the paper eardrum that was over the mouth of the lid when you first opened the jar. You had to puncture the eardrum with a spoon, and printed on top was "Tang, Tang, Tang."

My mother despised Tang. "I've just made this fresh tangerine juice and put it into this nice clay pitcher I bought at the Leverette Arts Center, and you want that god-awful artificial junk." She did like cinnamon DYNAMINTS, though.

Mrs. Ames told us that the men from the van wanted to use some of us in their commercial. "Not all of you, now. Only some of you. They're going to have to choose."

Instantly the students began raising their hands. Except for me. Some voice inside me said, "Don't do it. It's beneath you." Instead, I sat politely at my desk with my hands clasped firmly together. I was very pleased that I'd thought to wear my fourteen-karat-gold electroplated ID bracelet that day. One thing was certain: I would be in their Tang commercial. And if any of the other children tried to get in my way, I would use my pencil to blind them.

"So these men would like to separate everybody into groups and then ask each group a few questions."

Chaos erupted as the kids began to screech with excitement. Desks were shoved back, chairs knocked over. Mrs. Ames tried to gain control of her students by slapping her ruler against the edge of her globe. "Now, now, now, silence! Stop this! Children, come to attention at once!"

Reluctantly the class came to attention, facing the flag and placing their hands over their hearts, ready to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

"No, not that," she said. "Just stand still and be silent."

Eventually, we were split up into groups of three. Then group by group the men met with the kids.

I stared hatefully at the back of Lisa Tucker's fat head. I was trying to determine where the odor she emitted was coming from. A hole? Some sort of vent for her brain? I hated Lisa, and so did everyone else. She smelled like feet and something worse, something spoiled and eggy. And she was mean. She was a strong girl who pushed the boys around. Her older brother, Tommy, was one of the big kids who went to the new school down the street. Once he hit me so hard he knocked the wind out of me. I wished that Lisa and Tommy would go swimming in the ocean and be eaten by Jaws. Surely the men would know not to cast her in their commercial.

When it was finally my turn, the men were tired, as evidenced by their loosened ties and the large wet spots that spread from under their arms. They'd spoken to all thirty kids and had notes splayed out on the table in front of them. They looked funny sitting in our small chairs, which had never seemed small before.

The man who had first smiled at me said, "Hi guys. So do any of you want to be in a commercial?" He looked at me when he said this, and I got the feeling that he had already chosen me. His eyes said, You are special arm better than all the other children, and I would like you to come live with me and my blue eyes in a city far away from here. His eves said, I will save you.

We all nodded our heads yes.

"Good then. Good. So what I want to do is, I want to see if you can laugh. I'm gonna tell you a joke, and I just want to see what you sound like when you laugh. Ready?"

The other children nodded, I thought, like puppets. I smiled and winked at him, like I'd seen people do on TV.

He winked back and nudged the man on his left.

"Okay," he said. Then he raised his voice and made a comical face. "Your mother wears army boots!"

Neither of the other kids laughed.

I tossed my head back in an explosion of delight and laughed so hard I was able to bring tears to my eyes. My face was flushed, my hands dripping with sweat from the pressure.

"Wow," said the man. "You really liked that joke, did you?"

His friend turned to him. "Yeah, Phil, you're a real laugh-riot."

I quickly looked back and forth between the two men, but I wasn't sure what was going on between them. Had I laughed before the punch line? Or was it a trick joke? Had I just blown my chance?

"Do you kids like Tang?" he asked.

The other two kids nodded grimly.

"I love Tang!" I gushed. "Only I like to make it with an extra scoop. Plus, you can put it in ice cube trays and then freeze it! That's really good."

Where had that come from? I'd never in my life frozen Tang.

"That's great!" said the man with the blue eves who was going to lake me away to live with him in a penthouse apartment.

All of the men exchanged a look. Then my man said, "Thanks a lot, kids."

Disgusting Evan and retarded Ellen immediately pushed their chairs back from the table and fled. But I was crushed, stunned, so I moved in slow motion, carefully rising from my chair. They might as well run over me with their white Tang van now, I thought.

"Uh, no. Not you. What's your name?"

"Augusten?" I said.

"Yes, you, Augusten. You were great. We want you." It was the man with the blue eves speaking, and now I had my confirmation: he adores me, too. Instantly, my mood reversed, and I began to grind my teeth in joy.

I can now trace my manic adult tendencies to this moment. It was the first time I felt deeply thrilled about something just a fraction of an instant after being completely crushed. I believe those three words "We want you" were enough to cause my brain to rewire itself, and from then on, I would require MORE than other people. At the same time, my tolerance for alcohol was instantly increased, and a new neural pathway was created for the future appreciation of crack cocaine and prescription painkillers.

"You want me?" I said, containing my enthusiasm so completely that I probably appeared disinterested.

"Well, yeah. Don't you want to be in the commercial?"

"Well, yeah. A lot." I tried to imitate an excited boy. I was excited but somehow unable to express the actual emotion of excitement. My electrical system was all off now.

"Good," he said clapping his hands.


Excerpted from Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs Copyright © 2004 by Island Road, L.L.C.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Commercial break 1
Vanderbilt genes 17
Transfixed by transsexuals 25
Model behavior 31
I dated an undertaker 43
And now a word from our sponsor 51
The rat/thing 63
Debby's requirements 73
Roof work 97
Beating Raoul 109
Holy blow job 117
Mark the shrink 125
Telemarketing revenge 137
My last first date 143
The schnauzer 155
Key worst 163
Ass burger 171
Life cycle of the North American opossum 181
Cunnilingusville 189
I kid you not 197
I'm gonna live forever 205
Total turnaround 213
Roid rage 225
Magical thinking 233
Puff derby 245
Meanwhile, back at the ranch 251
Up the escalator 259
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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. If you were to write a letter to Burroughs about Magical Thinking, which essays would you mention? Was there one you found funniest? Most moving? Particularly upsetting? Why? Do you think Burroughs writes about his childhood differently from how he writes about his life as an adult? Explain.

2. "Commercial Break," "Model Behavior," and "I’m Gonna Live Forever" deal with Burroughs’s fascination with fame. Why do you think he was preoccupied with being famous? Do you think that all kids dream of being famous or is there something specific to Burroughs’s childhood that encouraged these fantasies? What does "I’m Gonna Live Forever" reveal about Burroughs’s adult understanding of fame? If you saw him crossing the street toward you, would you approach him? Why?

3. Several of Burroughs’s essays involve his transfixion with transsexuals. What is it in transsexuals that appeals to Burroughs? When he writes, "In a way, I am a psychological transsexual, always trying to ‘pass’ for a normal person but being clocked every time" (p. 260), what do you think he means?

4. "I Dated an Undertaker," "Beating Raoul," and "Mark the Shrink" involve Burroughs’s dating experiences. Do you think Burroughs’s bizarre childhood prepared him for the dating world? Do you have any dating stories that would make a great essay?

5. "I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them," writes Burroughs (p. 110). "I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions." Why do you think he feels this way? Can you identify? Explain.

6. How would you have handled Debby in "Debby’s Requirements"? Do you think Burroughs suspected what he was getting into when he hired her? Why do you think he kept her on for so long?

7. "My Last First Date" is the midpoint of Magical Thinking. What is significant about this essay? In what ways are Burroughs’s preoccupations different after this essay? Explain.

8. On page 149, Burroughs states: "Straight guys are like fags used to be. And the fags now are more like straight guys were. Fags today are all about body building and pickup trucks, and straight guys are all about feelings and open-toe sandals." Do you think there is any truth to this statement? Explain. Regardless of your sexual orientation, what things about you are "gay"? What things are "straight"?

9. In "I Kid You Not," Burroughs writes on page 202: "Let the people who want to have kids, have them. And let the rest of us spend the extra money on ourselves." Which type of person are you? Do you think Burroughs might make a better father than he expects? Why? How might a difficult childhood make someone an effective parent?

10. Based on Burroughs’s interaction with animals in "The Rat/Thing," "Life Cycle of the North American Opossum" and "Magical Thinking," do you think that he is a friend or foe to the four-legged creatures of this world? On page 186, Burroughs wonders "Did normal Americans kill everything that caused them trouble?" How would you respond that question?

11. In "Puff Derby," why does Burroughs seem to admire P. Diddy? In what ways is P. Diddy like a transsexual? How does the theme of reinvention and transformation run throughout Magical Thinking? How is the theme significant to the book’s title?

12. In "Up the Escalator," Burroughs observes on page 267: "The ‘down’ side always works. You can always slide down with ease. It’s going up that sometimes takes extra effort. The symbolism is not lost on me as I drift down to the main floor." What do you think Burroughs means? Does the essay provide a good ending for the collection? Why?

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