Toil & Trouble: A Memoir

St. Martin’s. Oct. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781250019950. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250019967. BIOG
Renowned for his best-selling memoir Running with Scissors, Burroughs continues sharing his dark brand of humor, while narrating his lifelong realization of extraordinary talents as a witch. He succeeds in taking readers on a journey to examine evidence of his uncanny skills, while remaining nonchalant about their willingness to accept it. Premonitions, telepathy, and materialization of thoughts are everyday occurrences, and witches are real; but Bigfoot, aliens, and vampires are not. Complete with anecdotes from the author’s unusual life, the narrative describes fateful incidents while poking a bit of fun at Burroughs himself and humanity in general. Unlike Chelsea Handler’s Life Will Be the Death of Me, the humorous attitude Burroughs displays doesn’t mask underlying sadness; his message isn’t necessarily about fixing oneself but rather accepting the totality of one’s existence.
VERDICT Although scientifically unsound, this book’s allegorical evidence for the belief in witchcraft will appeal to casual memoir readers, particularly those interested in the lighter side of religion and psychology. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]

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