Book Group: Your views on the June book - Dry, by Augusten Burroughs

Readers raising a glass to the gripping memoir of a drink problem
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If this month's book group had taken place in a bar, we would, I think, have had a ball. Cheery and convivial was the general tenor - a cosy chat over a few choice canapés and chilled chablis. It would all have gone swimmingly until the arrival half-way through of a phalanx of people who were stone-cold sober. "Call this funny?" they'd have muttered over their Kaliber or Virgin Mary. Their comments would, however, have been drowned in a chorus of giggles.

First at the bar was Bergkamp 100, who had read Dry "a couple of weeks ago in one sitting". She had found it "a whirlwind". It was, she said, "an amazing, gripping, addictive read". OliviaDW, too, was quick to join the party. "A big 'cheers!' and 'bottoms up!' for a great choice!" she gushed. It had made her think about her own drinking. Did she drink too much? How awful would it be not to drink at all? "In fact," she said, "I'm shaking and frothing at the mouth at that awful prospect!" Me, too, Olivia. Just a tiny drop, please.

PhilDeans took a long, slow sip of his John Smith's and paused before passing judgement. "Not sure 'enjoyed' is the right word to describe how I felt about the book," he said. "It's excellent and I am glad I read it. Some of it," he added, "made difficult reading. Emotional stuff." Perhaps embarrassed, he returned to matters logistical. "To quote that extensively when you are hammered out of your brain" was, he thought, "a magnificent feat".

LJ2026 drew up a chair, put down his pint and sighed. "This book," he said, "was very good." But he was upset about the cover. The quotes were "very misleading". They "implied that this was a laugh a minute story", but "quite a large portion of the book was incredibly sad".

Carolepin joined the book group specially in order to join the party. It was, she thought, "a well written, compulsive book". Jellyfeeble, too, was loving it. It was, she said, a long time since a book had made her "laugh out loud". It took more than one-liners, however, to impress glynhaggett. He had clearly come straight from work (as a critic? or lawyer?) and was in no mood to be effusive. "While I found the style of this book very fluent," he mused, "and the writing of high quality, the self-consciously wry tone became increasingly annoying as the book went on. As a consequence of which I cared very little about what happened." What did it say about us as readers "that we seem to lap up these stories of addiction and suffering", provided they were "safely at one remove"?

Just at that moment, Ramblingsid burst in. He'd had a bad day at the office. "The cover of the book seemed to suggest that it was a hilarious read," he said, which "didn't really" bode well. "It isn't funny," he declared sternly. "Not at all. Not even a bit. Not even mildly amusing." Kjm agreed. "I had," he said, "misgivings when the blurb on the cover stated how funny it was. A sure sign," he added grimly, "that it's probably not." Blimey. I know that Independent readers are meant to be independent-minded etc, but do you have to assume that everything you read is hype? I mean, some of those jacket blurbs are quotes from people like – well, me. "It did strike me," he continued, "that reading this book was like being with Augusten in a pub. People who are drunk are only funny if you're drunk too."

And then we hit the jackpot. "As someone who's done I don't know how many stints in rehab and AA I can tell you that so far it's ringing a lot of bells," said 10inchnail. Hooray! Method reading, as hoped. Shirleylizsm arrived in time for a nice glass of chardonnay, and pronounced it "a thoroughly good read". Becs66 loved it, but confessed that it had driven her to drink. Burroughs gave "such vivid descriptions of Martini with an olive" that she found her mouth watering. "I've never drunk Martini," she said, "but I found myself tempted to try." The power of literature indeed. You can't, dear readers, do better than that.

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