A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father

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A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father

by Augusten Burroughs
Read by Augusten Burroughs, Patti Smith

Picador | March 31, 2009 | Trade Paperback

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father is rated 3.3077 out of 5 by 13.

Nominated for the 2009 Audiobook of the Year

“As a little boy, I had a dream that my father had taken me to the woods where there was a dead body. He buried it and told me I must never tell. It was the only thing we’d ever done together as father and son, and I promised not to tell. But unlike most dreams, the memory of this one never left me. And sometimes…I wasn’t altogether sure about one thing: was it just a dream?”

When Augusten Burroughs was small, his father was a shadowy presence in his life: a form on the stairs, a cough from the basement, a silent figure smoking a cigarette in the dark. As Augusten grew older, something sinister within his father began to unfurl.  Something dark and secretive that could not be named. 

Betrayal after shocking betrayal ensued, and Augusten’s childhood was over. The kind of father he wanted didn’t exist for him. This father was distant, aloof, uninterested…

And then the “games” began.

With A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs makes a quantum leap into untapped emotional terrain: the radical pendulum swing between love and hate, the unspeakably terrifying relationship between father and son. Told with scorching honesty and penetrating insight, it is a story for anyone who has ever longed for unconditional love from a parent. Though harrowing and brutal, A Wolf at the Table will ultimately leave you buoyed with the profound joy of simply being alive. It’s a memoir of stunning psychological cruelty and the redemptive power of hope.

 

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8.18 × 5.46 × 0.7 in

Published: March 31, 2009

Publisher: Picador

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0312428278

ISBN - 13: 9780312428273

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from One To Re-read Over and Over The comedic edge mixed with the deep emotional portrayal makes for an intense rollercoaster ride of a novel. The prologue of the book is a few paragraphs that will be forever engrained into my memory as one of my most favorite pieces of writing (and can i just say, every sentence is a brick to the building of the story. I always hate usless information in novels, and thats one thing that does not exist here). I felt I had to give my take on this book, as there are so few positive ones. I don't quite understand how someone could say something bad about a novel, where the only thing a little boy wants in his life is love from his father. It breaks my heart to read the constant attempts of young augustens plead for this.. and the bizarre inter-workings of his family's story is something else, to say the least. Burroughs writing alone is what made me pluck this book for the second time from my shelf. If the "self-pity" and "exaggeration" of it is too much, the words alone are enough to make this memoir a standout. (Of course for me, the self-pity/exaggeration people tend to talk about is exaggeration in and of itself.) The story is one that pulls you along with every flip of the page. The ending? One that will resonate with you long after its over. In my opinion, you may need a pacemaker for this one.
Date published: 2011-08-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from just ok. i just finished "possible side effects" and it was ok and then i picked up "wolf at the table" and I was, again, let down. at times i felt sorry for augusten and the stuff he had to go through, but throughout the memoir i couldn't help but think that it was fabricated...A LOT. For example, there were FULL length conversations that Augusten has with his father when he is nine. Does anyone have that good of a memory? This is a quick read about a boy who lives with his indulgent mother and psychotic father. In my opinion he tells about how bad he had it over and over and over again and it gets boring. When I finished, I didn't put it down and say "that was a good book!, I put it down and said "thats done with. now I can move on to something else."
Date published: 2010-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotionally deep Bravo, bravo. I have not read many books that have reached my heart so deep. I had goose bumps at certain times. The character of the boy is exceptionally well written and honest about his feelings and confusions towards his father. I could understand so much his need to reach for his affection at the same time knowning that it was also dangerous to do so. The way the plot was developed from childhood memories to his present adult days was fascinating. Not once I was lost in the time frame or in his journey to understand who he is and will be. I recommend this book to anyone with a strong mind and who loves the adventures and struggle of human stories. Life is not always easy, but there is always hope. I will leave the ending up the future readers to judge as a surprise. As for the writter Mr. Augusten, this was my first time reading a book of yours and it definately won't be the last.
Date published: 2010-02-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Captivating Wow, was this book written good. The writing was so spectacular that I actually could actually see my self there as his life unfolded. He writes as he remembers his life growing up so it jumps as he gets older. and you lose track of his age. I am very impressed by this book.
Date published: 2010-01-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Another childishly written story After reading Running with Scissors, thought I'd give this guy another chance, based on some of the reviews I read. He still writes in an irritatingly pretentious, fake juvenile style - trying to sound like he's using a child's perspective throughout the book, but in an unconvincing way (we were all children at one time, & I never remember the reasoning this guys uses). I had hoped he would grow up & just write a story in realistic terms, but he chose instead to offer up a self-indulgent mish-mash of words. Sorry, but I just found this book annoying.
Date published: 2009-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A dark and disturbing memoir of a boys struggle through childhood This was my first introduction to Augusten Burroughs. I found A wolf at the Table to be a fast and easy read. It was hard to put down once I had immersed myself into this dark, sinister, dysfunctional, and sometimes out right disturbing family. I finished it in one day. At some points I found his writing style to be difficult to read. I also had to question whether some parts were truly fact, or if there was some fiction thrown in as well. I may be mistaken when I assume that memoir's are complete truth. However if this truly is an accurate account of his childhood, it just makes it that much more disturbing. Overall I would definitely recommend this book, however I would not put it in my top pick's.
Date published: 2009-09-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good...but dark.. Good...but dark
Date published: 2009-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another great story for my Augusten Burroughs collection! I am a huge fan of all Burroughs' other works, but having heard mixed reviews about A Wolf At the Table, I was a bit reluctant to pick it up. But thankfully a friend gave it to me as a gift, because I loved it! It is another memoir, filling in many of the gaps about Burroughs' early life that he hasn't mentioned in his other stories. This one is more comparable to Running With Scissors in style, and is more on the serious side than the funnier/lighter Magical Thinking and Possible Side Effects. While Burroughs' father has little presence in the other stories, A Wolf At the Table brings to light his strange role in Burroughs' life and odd upbringing. Burroughs' other stories display humour towards his childhood and adult life, and a real laugh-it-off attitude; but this story had me really feeling sympathy for what he went through, and realizing the depth and seriousness of the situation. While some parts did seem a little extreme/exaggerated, I think that just represents how much of an effect his father's behaviour had on him. Kudos to Augusten Burroughs for turning his strange childhood into a great story that will entertain and amaze many!
Date published: 2009-07-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not as enjoyable as his earlier work I'm a fan of Augusten Burroughs' earlier books Running With Scissors and Dry, and have really enjoyed these memoirs. I love how he finds humour in the strange and often tragic events he's lived through. For this book he leaves the humour behind and focuses on his early childhood, and his strained relationship with his father. I still have a few chapters to go, but so far I have been disappointed. With his earlier books, I found it hard to put them down. This one is a bit of a chore to finish. The wit and insight from his other work seems to be missing here. This one strikes me as a bit self-indulgent. He seems to be grasping at straws in an attempt to fill a third book about his life. That said, I fully intent to read the rest of his books, and I hope to find more of his 'old' voice there. So far this one is just making me depressed.
Date published: 2009-05-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Wolf At The Table Although this was not his best memoir, Burroughs still manages to be insightful and honest when speaking of his early childhood and his relationship with his father. A few more pieces to the puzzle that made up his life, and all the fear and anxiety that came with it.
Date published: 2009-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Augusten's Dark Side I love Augusten Burroughs. He's a fabulous writer with a unique and amusing perspective on life. His other books - Running With Scissors, Dry, Magical Thinking etc. - all deal with some dark subjects but with a strong sense of humor. This book he allowed the dark subject matter to be just that - dark. Read ALL his stuff - you won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2009-04-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Understanding Augusten just got easier Using construction-paper cutouts to disguise himself as the family dog and cuddling up to a stuffed “father body” are evidence of not only the ingenuity of a child struggling in an emotional wasteland, but also of classic genius. Clearly Augusten Burroughs creativity was apparent long before he put pen to paper. As sad and unfortunate as was his abandonment by his parents, he has proven rather successful after such mayhem, and it is not yet clear to me whether that is in spite of them or because of them. Although the story is wrought with the darkness of his bizarre and terribly lonely childhood, there is nevertheless a consistent strain of sardonic prose which permeates hope for the reader and substantiates Augusten’s prevailing strength. www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2008-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Childhood and darkness revisited Augusten Burroughs has once again kept me rivited to the pages of his newest memoir about his father. Although this one isn't as laugh at loud funny as his others it has vividly recaptured how a child sees the world and their parents. Augusten not only has an excellent memory but describes details of things he did and thought as a child that helped me remember that I did or thought those same things. He can bring anyones childhood back in so clearly that you feel like you're seven years old again. Augusten's father is scary and relatable. For those who don't relate, they should be extremely thankful. As after reading any of Augusten's memoiors I feel he is a strong and lucky man to have overcome his past and is now who he is today.
Date published: 2008-05-23

– More About This Product –

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father

by Augusten Burroughs
Read by Augusten Burroughs, Patti Smith

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8.18 × 5.46 × 0.7 in

Published: March 31, 2009

Publisher: Picador

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0312428278

ISBN - 13: 9780312428273

About the Book

"The Instant National Bestseller from the Author of "Running with Scissors

With "A Wolf at the Table," the prequel to his bestseller "Running with Scissors," Augusten Burroughs re-creates the unspeakably terrifying relationship between a sociopathic father and a son yearning for unconditional love. Emotionally unflinching and brave, "A Wolf at the Table" is a truly devestating look at the distance that can separate fathers and sons.

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 Sitting in my high chair, I held a saltine cracker up to my eye and peered through one of the tiny holes, astonished that I could see so much through such a small opening. Everything on the other side of the kitchen seemed nearer when viewed through this little window. The cracker was huge, larger than my hand. And through this pinprick hole I could see the world. I brought the cracker to my lips, nibbled off the corners, and mashed the rest into a dry, salty dust. I clapped, enchanted.   The hem of my mother’s skirt. A wicker lantern that hangs from the ceiling, painting the walls with sliding, breathing shadows. A wooden spoon and the hollow knock as it strikes the interior of a simmering pot. My high chair’s cool metal tray and the backs of my legs stuck to the seat. My mother twisting the telephone cord around her fingers, my mouth on the cord, the deeply satisfying sensation of biting the tight, springy loops. I was one and a half years old.   These fragments are all that remain of my early childhood. There are no words, just sounds: my mother’s breathy humming in my ear, her voice the most familiar thing to me, more known than my own hand. My hand still surprises me at all times; the lines and creases, the way the webbing between my fingers glows red if I hold up my hand to block the sun. My mother’s voice is my home and when I am surrounded by her sounds, I sleep. The thickly slippery feel of my bottle’s rubber nipple i
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From the Publisher

Nominated for the 2009 Audiobook of the Year

“As a little boy, I had a dream that my father had taken me to the woods where there was a dead body. He buried it and told me I must never tell. It was the only thing we’d ever done together as father and son, and I promised not to tell. But unlike most dreams, the memory of this one never left me. And sometimes…I wasn’t altogether sure about one thing: was it just a dream?”

When Augusten Burroughs was small, his father was a shadowy presence in his life: a form on the stairs, a cough from the basement, a silent figure smoking a cigarette in the dark. As Augusten grew older, something sinister within his father began to unfurl.  Something dark and secretive that could not be named. 

Betrayal after shocking betrayal ensued, and Augusten’s childhood was over. The kind of father he wanted didn’t exist for him. This father was distant, aloof, uninterested…

And then the “games” began.

With A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs makes a quantum leap into untapped emotional terrain: the radical pendulum swing between love and hate, the unspeakably terrifying relationship between father and son. Told with scorching honesty and penetrating insight, it is a story for anyone who has ever longed for unconditional love from a parent. Though harrowing and brutal, A Wolf at the Table will ultimately leave you buoyed with the profound joy of simply being alive. It’s a memoir of stunning psychological cruelty and the redemptive power of hope.

 

About the Author

Augusten Burroughs is the New York Times bestselling author of Possible Side Effects, Magical Thinking, Dry, Running with Scissors, and Sellevision. His work has been published in more than twenty-five countries. He lives in New York City and Amherst, Massachusetts.

Editorial Reviews

"Intense, sincere, and passionate, Burroughs offers a deeply felt, intimate portrait of the most disastrous period in his life.  He holds nothing back, and in fully giving voice to his emotions, he makes each moment immediate for the listener." - AudioFile   "In audiobook form, Burroughs''s memoir is an unforgettable experience that will resonate with many." - Library Journal , Starred Review   "...There are books that were born for bells and whistles, and Augusten Burrough''s Wolf at the Table is one.  This fifth memoir of abuse and excess is read, bleated, rumbled and, at times, tearfully shouted by the author himself. The audio book includes sound effects and occasional instrumental music, and it breaks new ground by presenting four songs written expressly for the productions. There is one each from Patti Smith, Ingrid Michaelson, Sea Wolf and Tegan Quin." - Washington Post   “I felt that because this book is different than anything I have written before, it deserved a very unique, special treatment and production.” — Augusten Burroughs on A Wolf at the Table   “I wanted an audiobook for the iPod generation – for people who love books but also love music and film.  I wanted to bring the book to life as fully as possible.” — Augusten Burroughs on A Wolf at the Table  in Publishers Weekly “Bestselling author Burroughs has written a brutally frank memoir about his father – his diffic
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Bookclub Guide

About this Guide

The following author biography and list of questions about A Wolf at the Table are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach A Wolf at the Table.