Book Group: John Walsh reviews the June book - Dry, by Augusten Burroughs

Self-absorbed, but a brilliant read

Its sequel, Dry, finds our hero now 24, a creative writer in a Manhattan ad agency, a frequenter of bars – and a raging alcoholic. His 4am vodka binges, his evenings spent flooring Dewar's scotch with cider chasers, catch up with him and he is sent by his boss to 30 days in rehab.

After the exhilaration of Scissors, Dry starts disappointingly: the drinks, cover-ups, missed alarm calls, and group-therapy routines seem a little over-familiar and second-hand. But darker notes are sounded. Gradually a theme emerges: is it OK to be a profoundly vain and shallow person, when it's so painful to have feelings?

It's absurdly self-absorbed, and Burroughs' emotional handbrake turns sometimes stretch credibility; but it's still a brilliantly written, evocative and finally convincing descent into nothingness.