Category Archives: GLBT memoir and/or biography

“Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir” by Mohammed Abdulkarim Ali— Addiction and Recovery

Ali, Mohammed Abdulkarim. “Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir, University  of Regina Press, 2019.

Addiction and Recovery

Amos Lassen

Mohammed Abdulkarim Ali was kidnapped by his father just as Somalia was experiencing societal implosion. He was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then later on to Canada. Now away from his birth family and dealing with the forces of Somali tradition and Western culture, Mohamed had to find a way to face his queer coming of age. The story he gives us is not one that will make you smile; it is a very powerful look at “one young man’s nascent sexuality fused with the violence wrought by displacement.”  Most of us never face anything quite like it but then on the other many of us have experienced that displacement and self-acceptance can cause.

“My road to lasciviousness took many years. I found out how far I could go by using my body for gratification.” To understand that thought, it is necessary to understand what Ali meant by lasciviousness which is actually much milder than the usual definition. It was his way of exploring his sexuality by hiding it from others. “I used a glass deodorant bottle to probe my asshole. I thought about whether I should lube up the staircase railing and slide back onto it. I wanted to know how much pain my dick could take. Further along Ali discusses the roles of dominance and submission and that he as a black man was expected to be dominant while, in truth, he enjoyed being submissive.

This is a striking and stunning read that certainly opened my eyes about so much and in less than 200 small pages (the book is physically very small, thought-wise, it is encyclopedic). Do not be misled by title of “Addiction and Recovery”. Finding who you are can be quite addictive.

“Both tragic and healing, Angry Queer Somali Boy offers resplendent writing that intimately grapples with placelessness, identity, and belonging, in all its forms. ” —Huda Hassan, writer and researcher

“A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir” by Edie Windsor and Joshua Lyon— An Icon Speaks (or Writes)

Windsor, Edie and Joshua Lyon. “A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir”, St. Martin’s Press, 2019.

An Icon Speaks

Amos Lassen

Edie Windsor was and, in fact will always be, an icon of the gay rights movement. In her memoir “A Wild and Precious Life” written with Joshua Lyon, she describes gay life in 1950s and 60s New York City and her longtime activism which opened the door for marriage equality. Windsor “believed in her right to take up space and be seen.”

Edie Windsor became internationally famous by suing the US government to gain federal recognition for her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than four decades. The Supreme Court ruled in her favor and this was a landmark victory that set the stage for full marriage equality in the US. Suddenly Edie was an icon and she embraced this new role; she had already been living an extraordinary and groundbreaking life for decades. 

She began writing this memoir before passing away in 2017 and it has now been completed by Lyon, her co-writer.  Edie shares her childhood in Philadelphia, her realization that she was a lesbian, and her active social life in Greenwich Village and the underground gay scene of the 1950s. She was one of a select group of trailblazing women in computing and worked her way up the ladder at IBM, achieving their highest technical ranking while developing software. In the early 1960s Edie met Thea, a member of a Dutch Jewish family that fled the Nazis, and a widely respected clinical psychologist. Their partnership lasted forty-four years, until Thea died in 2009. Edie then found love again and married Judith Kasen-Windsor in 2016. 

When Edie moved to Greenwich Village in New York City she found the bohemian, artistic and unofficial gay and lesbian capital of the city. While working at IBM she kept her personal life private from inquiring minds. She was worried about being outed and losing her job.

During the fifties and sixties, Thea Spyer entered her life. They had a turbulent beginning which led to a forty year romantic relationship. Thea was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Edie became her caretaker for thirty years. They were a celebrated lesbian couple both in Greenwich Village and in the Hampton’s gay community where they kept a house.

When Thea died in 2008, Edie fought to keep her inheritance from taxes. They had married legally in Canada and were registered as domestic partners but the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited Edie from keeping about $300,000 in taxes. If Thea had been Theo, Edie would have kept it. Edie fought it all the way to the United States Supreme Court and won.

We read here that Edie never had the intention of celebrity or becoming a lesbian icon. She simply stood her ground and fought for equality and justice. If it wasn’t for Windsor’s battle to avoid paying inheritance taxes after her partner of 40 years died, same-sex marriage would probably still be illegal in the United States. We must all be grateful for her personal sacrifices every day of our lives.

“Me” by Elton John— The Official Autobiography

John, Elton. “Me: Elton John”, Henry Holt, 2019

The Official Autobiography

Amos Lassen

Music icon Elton John shares the truth about his life “from his rollercoaster lifestyle to becoming a living legend.” John entered this world as Reginald Dwight and became a shy boy who wore glasses. Growing up in the London suburb of Pinner, he dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the time he was twenty-three he had his first gig in America and this marked the arrival of Elton John and the music world would never be the same again.

John lived a life of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to going out of control as superstar; from a half-hearted suicide attempt in his LA swimming pool,  dancing with Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth; to friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael, setting up his AIDS Foundation, being lauded on Broadway with AidaThe Lion King, and Billy Elliot the Musical. And while of this was happening, he was hiding a drug addiction that would almost consume him for over a decade.

He writes powerfully about getting clean and changing his life, finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father and he gossips and shares “good dish”. His voice here is “warm, humble, and open” as he shares “his music and his relationships, his passions and his mistakes.”

As for gossip, John really pushes the envelope. He shares that his mother insisted on watching the 1972 porn film “Deep Throat” aboard the plane (Just a little unimportant tidbit). “Me” is a very full book by a man who has not been very open before. There are many lurid details here that will make headlines but it is John’s “hard-won self-knowledge is what the book’s really about” and brilliantly so.

John tells wonderful stories about being at the Troubadour in Los Angeles during his first American gig. He stunned audiences who had never seen anything like him. He was something new, pure pop and great fun. Everyone wanted to know him.

It was his gay friends who assured him that he was gay but he was unable to do much about that until he was 23. He then made up for lost time. He tells us about his jealous nature and that his heart has been broken by straight men. He claims that he is not able to move slowly with anyone. He was possessive and then dismissive like his friend Rod Stewart (they call each other Phyllis and Sharon even today).

AIDS, which killed his friend Freddie Mercury, has been an important cause for John for a long time. He founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the early 1990s, and several times in this memoir he refers to his advocacy to explain away some controversy or other.

John sees himself as a sexual voyeur, and prefer to watch rather than touch. He thinks that this might have kept him safe from the disease. He writes about having had prostate cancer and his surgery and use of adult diapers.  His addiction moves into first place here and he is brutally honest about it. He says that most of his best-known work was already behind him when cocaine became such a major part of his life. He had the money and ability to indulge in huge amounts of drugs. He once spent two weeks in his bedroom coked up and drinking. He was also bulimic refused any suggestion to get help.  What finally sobered him up was the combined effect of losing so many friends and watching what happens when somebody he cared about went to rehab.

 “Me” was written with the help of the British music critic Alexis Petridis, who met with John frequently and we feel his hand in the  transitions and foreshadowing. John’s own voice sounds just right here and we finally get to hear from someone who has sung so many of Bernie Taupin’s words and so few of his own.

The publisher, Henry Hold, also sent me the unabridged ten cd audio book read by Taron Egerton with John himself. I read the printed book first and then immediately listened to it and relived all the highlights. As soon as I get another two days free, I am going to listed while reading and I already know that I will enjoy it even more.

“NEVER AGAIN IS NOW”— Antisemitism Today


Antisemitism Today

Amos Lassen

It is impossible for any thinking person not to realize that once again antisemitism has raised its ugly head both in the United States and in Europe. I am sure that other places are feeling it as well. “Never Again Is Now” shows us the present day influences of Right, Left and religious influences on rising antisemitism. Evelyn Markus, a Dutch lesbian Jew and co-founder of the non-profit “Network on Antisemitism”, came to the US with her partner Rosa Zeegers because they found pink star graffiti on their door at home. They were eager to get away from the present day rise of antisemitism. That escape became a journey during which Markus met with “globally renowned experts, Parliamentarians, religious leaders, authors, activists, playwrights and political commentators including Ben Shapiro, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and devout Muslim physician Qanta Ahmed.”

 Even here in Boston, where peace between Bostonians reigns supreme, we have felt the new rise antisemitism. I usually find out early about new films of interest to the LGBT and/or Jewish communities but I had no idea that this was coming and it is quite powerful. We see

archival films of Hitler and the war combined with films of life in Europe today. The term “Never Again” became mouthed and heard all over the world after the deaths of six millions Jews 1941-45 during the Holocaust. In my own naivete, like other Jews and those affected by the mass murders, I thought we had heard the last of “Never Again”.  We now know we were wrong.

We see that France has experienced a new wave of extremely hateful behaviors and antisemitism. There have been beatings, places where Jews congregate have been bombed Surprisingly enough, the Netherlands has also witnessed antisemitism and there has been a great deal of violence from the large numbers of Muslims that are now in Europe but there have also been problems from regular citizens who have allowed themselves to become caught up in today’s wave of hatred. There are far right politicians in Europe who are anti-Semites.

I have studied antisemitism for a good part of my life and I have never become hardened by it. Each time I hear about it, I become extremely upset and often become enraged. Watching “Never Again is Now” once again made me realize how much I am affected by racism and hatred for hatred’s sake especially when the Jews are targeted even though they have made such important and powerful contributions to the way we live today. Hannah Arendt stated, “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” What me must add is that once ones tastes what it is to be evil, it is not difficult to remain that way.

Markus chroncles her personal journey to becoming heroic in the fight against the rise of antisemitism in the world.  Her parents were Holocaust survivors in Holland but because of her own personal experiences with antisemitism, she left Europe to come to America at a time when European Jews were being beaten, stabbed and even murdered and where it became necessary to have military protection for Jewish schools and synagogues. On a personal level, I attended three different sessions on security for the High Holidays in Boston and I have remained shocked since 9/11 that we mist have police both inside and outside of our synagogues during significant holiday celebrations.

 Yes, we have had antisemitic incidents and we can only wonder if history is repeating itself. Markus interviewed global thought leaders for her documentary that lets us see the situation as it is and presents a warning and a call to action.

There are those who feel that the creation of the State of Israel has led to a rise of hatred against the Jews. Markus interviewed Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Muslim born in Somalia who had left for Europe and ultimately the United States and asked him this very question to which he replied that “anti-Semitic sentiment lies buried in some people, with Israel serving merely as an excuse to demonstrate.” He reminds us that not  everything was good for the Jews before the creation of Israel. It seems to be human nature to need scapegoats and we are well-aware that these scapegoats have come from “minority groups like the Armenians in Turkey, the Rohinga in Myanmar, the Romani in Europe, the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the Hutus against the Tutsis in Rwanda,” many against the Jews and this is just to name a few.

Markus shares that she is not only Jewish but gay and she and her partner are often dismayed that often demonstrations against Jews (“not Zionists, necessarily, not Israelis, but diaspora Jews”) have caused the Netherlands to become unrecognizable because of demonstrations by Muslims who yell “Kill the Jews wherever they live.” Even non-Jews are marked for assassination if they are critical of Islam. But we also learn that most Muslims who live in Europe and the U.S. conduct regular businesses and are not political, and that a few share that violent demonstrators are not in the spirit of Islam and are caused by political Islamists.

Anti-Nazi Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil” thus letting us know that Markus wants us to speak out and up against evil. People are doing so but without much result in Europe. In the U.S. Jews can still walk with kipot on heads and draped in a prayer shawl yet the present political administration does not think that neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are “fine people.” 

While we are called to action with this documentary, we are not informed about what we can do to end the divisions in our society that grow and grow since free speech allows for that. I do not think abolishing free speech is an answer but I am sure that there exists an answer that we must find together. By watching this incredible movie, you just might get an idea as to what you can do. Even if you do not, you certainly become more aware.

“In the Shadow of the Bridge: A Memoir” by Joseph Caldwell— Before Stonewall

Caldwell, Joseph. “In the Shadow of the Bridge: A Memoir”, Delphinium Books, 2019

Before Stonewall

Amos Lassen

We sometimes forget that there was gay history before Stonewall and gay life in New York City was alive and vibrant. Joseph Caldwell in his memoir “In the Shadow of the Bridge” shares what it was like and in doing so gives us another chapter of our history. He is a wonderful storyteller and a fascinating memoirist. I loved this book so much that I read it one sitting and then reread it immediately afterwards. It is both intimate and far reaching.

I was reminded of the lifestyle we lead back then and while I was in New Orleans and not in New York, both cities’ LGBT communities embraced the bohemian way of living. I found myself amid intellectuals, writers and artists as did Caldwell. Living in that kind of society, we allowed ourselves to be outsiders of the mainstream yet insiders culturally. Basic living was very different back then and if it were not for this memoir it would probably not even be thought about (by many).

Joseph Caldwell has written a candid memoir about  his tenure working at WQXR, the very popular and almost sanctified classical music station, his participation in civil protests and his arrests, his friends and “accomplished acquaintances while living a libertine life of a young gay man who is also a noted playwright, novelist, Rome Prize winner and now a memoir writer. Of course he writes about the advent of the AIDS epidemic and how it took a heavy toll on New York City and free love and sex became feared. When he least expected it, Caldwell got a chance at a relationship and she shares that along with his chronicle artistic and gay life in New York City and how it changed during the  plague years. I can’t imagine any other or better way of reading about New York City gay life other than by one who personally experienced it and able to relate it to others. Caldwell became a caregiver for those with HIV and shares the most poignant, personal events from his life with us, showing how they  connect to the wider culture. This is the story of a young man who came to New York with hopes of being an artist and a man of faith yet who dared to love other men.  His story is the story of a generation of so many others like him.

“Beautiful on the Outside” by Adam Rippon— Meet the Former Olympic Figure Skater

Rippon, Adam. “Beautiful on the Outside”, Grand Central Press, 2019.

Meet the Former Olympic Figure Skater

Amos Lassen

Adam Rippon is an Olympic athlete and medal-winning figure skater. We fell in love as we watched him skate but we never really got to know him. I find that when there are those that I want to know more about, it is always best to hear from them who they are. To do that, we have to wait till the person writes an autobiography and here is one that was worth waiting for. Rippon won the 2010 Four Continents Championships and the 2016 U.S. National Championships and was selected to represent the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He came out as gay in October 2015 and, at the 2018 Winter Olympics, won a bronze medal as part of the figure skating team event, and he became the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to win a medal in a Winter Olympics. He was named to the TIME 100 List of Most Influential People, Forbes 30 Under 30; AdWeek’s 100 Most Creative and OUT Magazine’s Power 50: The Most Influential Voices in LGBTQ America. He won season 26 of Dancing with the Stars: Athletes before going on to be a judge on the premiere season of Dancing with the Stars Juniors.

He has quite a pedigree and it is unique because he is an out gay male who was able to achieve all of this. To me he represents America’s changing opinions about those of us who were not so long ago considered to be abominations. Rippon shares his funny and inspiring personality in “Beautiful on the Outside” and it is that personality that draws us in.

Rippon shows that just below the surface, everything was an absolute mess. He traveled to practices on a Greyhound bus next to ex-convicts and he was once so poor that all he had to eat were free apples at his gym. He was able face and deal with the toughest times with a smile on his face, a twinkle in his eye, and a bon mot for anyone listening. We are with him on his journey from a homeschooled kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to a self-professed American sweetheart on the world stage. We learn of his disasters and self-delusions that he had to get through to get to be where he is now.

“Echoes of Jerry: One Man’s Search for His Deaf Uncle and His Own Voice” by Judah LeBlang— Feeling Different

Leblang, Judah. “Echoes of Jerry: One Man’s Search for His Deaf Uncle and His Own Voice”, Red Giant Books, 2019.

Feeling Different

Amos Lassen

I met Judah Leblang through his writing some 12 years ago and I was very impressed. When he told me a couple of weeks ago that he had a new book out and asked me to review it, I jumped at the chance. He did not disappoint. I remembered thinking that reading his words was like talking to an old friend and even though years have passed, I got the same feeling with “Echoes of Jerry”.

Leblang grew up in suburban Cleveland where he felt a deep connection with his Uncle Jerry. Jerry was “an orally-educated deaf man who lived an isolated life between the deaf and hearing worlds.” Succinctly put, he was different. Like his uncle Leblang also felt different. He was beginning to sense that his sexuality made him feel different and placed him in the category of “the other” and those of us who have been there (at a very different time in our history, have also dealt with these same feelings of otherness. LeBlang came out in the mid-1980s. Time passed quickly and after working in the Deaf Community and then later losing much of his own hearing, he decides to undertake a journey to understand his late uncle and to give him a voice. Because Jerry’s existence was a world of no. sound, he was a mystery. He died young at age 44 after having a heart attack.

So you might ask why you would want to read a book like this. We forget later what we went through while dealing with our gayness after we feel comfortable enough in it. Of course, these are different times where in many places being gay is no big deal. Yet there was a time when we felt different from the rest of society and that is reflected by Jerry’s inability to hear and LeBlang dealing with his own hearing loss. This is a book for whoever has ever felt being an outsider because of difference.

Leblang shares his growing up feeling isolated in Cleveland of the 1970s. What is fascinating here is that he finds parallels with his Uncle Jerry’s experiences of growing up deaf twenty years earlier. He brings his and Jerry’s life stories together as both men search for ways to belong. There were moments when my eyes filled with tears when I read about the strength of family and Jerry’s death.

The feelings we get at feeling different for whatever reason are the same. We all want acceptance and hunger for community. For those who do feel this otherness, their lives are relatively much easier but there are just few numbers of those who just automatically fit. LeBlang beautifully uses his own life and his uncle’s as jumping off points to ask universal questions about how one deals with the desire to belong to a community. This is a quick read that has a lot to say.

“Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir)” by Jackson Bird— Sorting and Becoming

Bird, Jackson. “Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir)”, Tiller, 2019.

Sorting and Becoming

Amos Lassen

Bird Jackson’s “Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir)” is a memoir from LGBTQ+ advocate Jackson Bird about how, “through a childhood of gender mishaps and an awkward adolescence, he finally sorted things out and came out as a transgender man in his mid-twenties.” I have always found it difficult to understand the pain that transgender people feel but I certainly have a much better due to this book. 

When he was twenty-five, Jackson Bird came out as transgender to his friends, family, and anyone in the world who had an internet connection. He was assigned female at birth and having been raised a girl, he often wondered if he should have been born a boy. He didn’t share this with anybody because he didn’t think he could share it with anyone. He grew up in Texas in the 1990s with no transgender role models. In fact, he hardly barely remembers meeting anyone who was openly gay. He figured that the only transgender people that were around then we there to be punchlines of jokes.  

Times have changed and today, Jackson is a writer, YouTuber, and LGBTQ advocate who  lives openly and happily as a transgender man. In his memoir, he shares how he got to where he is.  Jackson chronicles the ups and downs of maturing as a “gender confused” person. He includes journal entries from childhood to adolescence to today and he writes about  the challenges he faced while trying to understand his gender and sexuality, and worrying about how he was/is to interact with the world. He writes with wit as he recounts how he navigated the many obstacles and differences of his transition––like figuring out how to have a chest binder delivered to his dorm room at NYU and experiencing an emotional breakdown at a Harry Potter fan convention. Jackson shares each detail of his journey from his first testosterone shot to his top surgery and he explains trans terminology and little-known facts about gender and identity.

Bird both shares the many facets of a transgender life and demonstrates the power and being oneself even while not knowing who that oneself is. He combines memoir with an educational guide giving us a frank and humorous narrative of growing up with baggage. I must say that he shares self-determination with great dignity. He does not have to do this but we are very lucky that he did.

He is a “gentle and charming narrator” with the ability to unite his story with educational asides and makes sure that all of his readers can follow along. He examines transgender issues  thoughtfully and affirming and affirmatively as manages to honor the past and the present regarding trans-identity and he does so with  compassion and tenderness making this an accessible book for anyone who might need help as they walk through their own transition or the transition of someone they love. He explains how to speak and interact with people who just happen to be trans. This is both a fine book about gender issues and a warm memoir about growing up. It takes great strength and courage to speak out after an identity has been formed. This book is totally relatable and I am sure that many people will agree with me.

“Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina: An Exile’s Journey” by Joyce Zonana— Finding Home

Zonana, Joyce. “Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina, an Exile’s Journey”, (Jewish Women Writers), The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2008.

Finding Home

Amos Lassen

“Dream Homes” is Joyce Zonana’s story of  finding a sense of home among people, foods, and places. After Israel’s War on Independence in 1948, Felix and Nellie Zonana decided to flee Egypt with their infant daughter, Joyce. They came to Brooklyn. Joyce soon realized that her Jewish family with their Egyptian culture are neither typically American nor typically American-Jewish (something we all need to be reminded of. There are Sephardic and Middle-Eastern Jews whose traditions and rituals are very different from the Ashkenazim, Jews from Europe. Zonana struggled feelings of isolation from other Americans and she was frustrated by never getting full access to Egyptian-Jewish culture, so she began a life-long journey to find her place in the world.

She finds and meets her extended family living in Colombia and Brazil and goes to Cairo to see her parents’ past. After she and her mother survive the devastation of Katrina, Zonana realizes that home is a spiritual state of mind. Two of the things we sense in this book seem to hover over the entire length and I imagine over Zonana’s life— family angsty and a sense of restlessness.

She grew up a misfit among the European-dominated New York Jewish community and for much of her life, she was she felt that she had been exiled. Zonana captures the suffering and uncertainty of migration and assimilation, “whether forced or formulated.” 
Brooklyn Jews knew nothing about the traditions of Egyptian Jews, a community that was nearly erased from the face of the earth in the aftermath of  the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. Zonana grew up speaking French and English and eating foods found only in Arab-owned stores. Her father prayed daily, but the family neither kept a kosher home nor observed the Sabbath.

Zonana is able to share the suffering and uncertainty of migration and assimilation in elegant prose and vivid, detailed descriptions. She takes us to Egypt, to New Orleans (where she taught me), to Oklahoma and we see what made her life. We read of her senses of universal loneliness, estrangement, need for answers, and desire to find a place that makes he feel complete.

The main theme is Zonana’s quest to uncover family history while breaking away from the strings that attach her to that same history.

She felt that she did not quite belong anywhere. In exploring the exile of the heart that overwhelmed her family and shaped her life, she also looks at the dispossession that haunts the next generation, the generation with no specific memories. Zonana adds a valuable dimension to the literature of Jewish exile from Arab lands.

“Toil & Trouble: A Memoir” by Augusten Burroughs— Yet Another Wonderful Memoir

Burroughs, Augusten. “Toil & Trouble: A Memoir”, St. Martin’s, 2019.

Yet Another Wonderful Memoir

Amos Lassen

It took Augusten Burroughs to get me to understand that a person can write more than one memoir and that each one can be good. With each new memoir, Burroughs stuns us anew. Perhaps that is because that for as long as he can remember, he knew things that he should not have known. Then there are the things he believes in and those that he does not.

“I don’t believe in: God. The Devil. Heaven. Hell. Bigfoot. Ancient Aliens. Past lives. Life after death. Vampires. Zombies. Reiki. Homeopathy. Rolfing. Reflexology.” He tells us to take note that ‘witches’ and ‘witchcraft’ are absent from this list. “The thing is, I wouldn’t believe in them, and I would privately ridicule any idiot who did, except for one thing: I am a witch.” 

Burroughs has kept things that shouldn’t have come to pass inside himself and told no one about this except his mother who reassured him that it was all perfectly normal and that he comes from a long line of witches, going back to the days of the early American colonies. His family tree was filled with witches. This was a bond that he and his mother shared–until the day she left him in the care of her psychiatrist to be raised in his family (we have already had that story). From then on, Burroughs was on his own to navigate the world of this new power and to either use or misuse it. 

Here is the story of his journey to understand who he is and to reconcile the powers he can wield with things with which he is helpless. There are very few things that are coincidences here and we see that we have some new ideas to think about.

So Augusten Burroughs is a witch and a nonbeliever in ghosts, God and so much more. He explains that for him, being a witch is about seeing things before they happen and setting intentions.  Believe him or not, Burroughs pulls you in and I often think about him and the characters that he writes about. Here I learned a great deal about being a witch and how witches act and think. Whether there will ever be transfer value for adding that to my education is something I probably will never know but that’s fine. That’s fine because Augusten Burroughs is such a good storyteller—I believe listening to him describe professional Karate would make me a Karate fan. He has the unique ability to make you feel that he is in the room with you as you read his words. So it is about being a witch but it is also about being happy and how to do that.