A Wolf At The Table
I just finished Augusten Burroughs latest memoir “A Wolf At The Table” which is a book about his father. It’s a dark book but not without hopeful moments, I read it greedily and quickly – the irony of why we are drawn to dark stories not eluding me. Perhaps through the retelling of human struggles we are able to relate to one another and gain a sense of intimacy and closeness. We find compassion even if we can’t relate to the exact events in ones retelling of their stories.
This passage was very poignant for me, it’s sadly lovely…
I knew I had an ugly life. I knew I was lonely and I was scared. I thought something might be wrong with my father, wrong in the worst possible way. I believed he might contain a pathology of the mind – an emptiness – a knocking hollow where his soul should have been. But I also knew that one day, I would grow up. One day, I would be twenty, or thirty, or forty, even fifty and sixty and seventy and eighty and maybe even one hundred years old. And all those years were mine, they belonged to nobody but me. So even if I was unhappy now, it could all change tomorrow. Maybe I didn’t need to jump off the cliff to experience that kind of freedom. Maybe the fact that I knew, such a freedom existed in the world meant that I could someday find it.
Maybe, I thought, I don’t need a father to be happy. Maybe, what you get from a father you can get somewhere else, from somebody else, later. Or maybe you can just work around what’s missing, build the house of your life over the hole that is there and always will be.
Memoirs have grown controversial after the James Frey mess. I recently read an interview with David Sedaris who has written a new memoir due to be released in June. He said “a memoir is not where someone should go for the truth”. Funny.
Of course he is aware, as are many of us are, that a memoir is one’s personal drama- and our personal dramas are just that. Our first person experience and intrepretation and often not really accurate of much more than that.
Still A Wolf At The Table was a great read and I look forward to more from Augusten Burroughs.