A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
I decided to read this book because I was pulled in by Running with Scissors by this author. I cannot say that I loved the other book but I could not put it down. I considered it to be like a train wreck. You know you should stop looking but you just can’t help yourself. So, here I am again…becoming completely engaged with Augusten and his life.
Whereas Running with Scissors was like a train wreck, this book pulls at your heartstrings. This book is written with the innocence of childhood. Full of complete love and adoration for a man who refuses even the slightest glance for his poor son who only wanted to be held. Augusten would fight “the arms” and try to get past them to get to his father. He would ask questions and do everything he could for his father. His father however, refused to reciprocate this love. The most Augusten ever received from his father was an automatic “very much I love you too” at bedtime.
Though childhood innocence can protect a boy from many hurts in life, this innocence does not last forever. Unfortunately, Augusten learned too soon that something was wrong or “missing” from his father. Innocence was replaced by fear, fear replaced by terror, and terror replaced by desperation. All he ever wanted was love, compassion, approval.
Though Augusten’s father had his own share of childhood pain and torture, the cycle must be broken at some point. This man was not strong enough to do so. The “games” repeat themselves and become more sadistic.
Finishing this book I could not help but stare at the picture of Augusten Burroughs on the back cover. His eyes seemed to pierce through me and I marveled at how this man, who survived so much, could have made something so wonderful of himself. There is something in this man that helped him survive. Could it have truly been a half loaf of bread, five slices of bologna, and a can of fruit punch that pushed him to make something of himself? Was it the love he lifted from a complete stranger that was the catalyst? Either way, Augusten Burroughs has a way with words. He pulls you in and forces you to run, terrified, through the woods with him. His sadness for the “outside” dog transcends the pages and becomes your sadness. His fears of becoming his father become your fears. This is a man who grabs hold of your spirit, emotions, your soul and he refuses to let you go. You are with him and he is with you…always.