This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. This book has been panned by a lot of readers who are apparently very bad at reading. Well, now, that’s judgmental, and one of the things that This is How covers is how not to be such a Judge Judy all the time when out and about in the real world. in all honesty, though, This is How is a self-help book that pretty obviously sells itself (with quite the subtitle) on its therapeutic charms.
It’s really no surprise that I liked this book. Augusten Burroughs is my favorite author and has been since the first time I read Dry five years ago. This book is not another dark but funny memoir a la Running with Scissors or Dry. It’s not Sedaris-esque essays with a dark and humorous bent a la Magical Thinking or Possible Side Effects. Instead, as the back cover proclaims, this is the book Burroughs was born to write. The tone, attitude, and straightforwardness of the book all mark it as quintessential Burroughs, even if the subject breaks new ground.
Burroughs advice tends towards the “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” mentality. He acknowledges throughout the book, in chapters on How to Fail, How to Feel Like Shit, and How to Feel Sorry for Yourself that the responsibility for health and vitality and a good life lies with every person. Sure, he acknowledges that bad things happen to everyone and that things that are not our faults get in the way of our planned existence. But, in the words of my Southern mama, “tough tittie.” The world doesn’t owe you anything, and if you want all of the goodness and fullness of life, then you have to grab it for yourself. Live in the present, look towards the future, and let the past be what it was.
Also, the chapter on How to End Your Life might be the best thing about suicide I’ve ever read.