"Toil & Trouble" by Augusten Burroughs

"Toil & Trouble" by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's Press)

"Toil & Trouble" by Augusten Burroughs; St. Martin's Press (320 pages, $27.99)


It's called "Toil & Trouble" but "Bait & Switch" is more like it. Despite a title that references the cauldron speech in "Macbeth," a pre-Halloween release date and marketing that positions it as the book in which Augusten Burroughs comes out as a witch, "Toil & Trouble" is just barely about witching.

Mostly, the memoirist writes about moving, with husband Christopher Schelling, from their Manhattan apartments into a Connecticut mansion that needs a lot of work. There are occasional flashbacks to Burroughs' moneymaker, the estranged, mentally ill mother who was the star of his blockbuster, "Running With Scissors." And there are quite a few events this skeptic would call "premonitions" but that Burroughs writes are actually the result of a gift he has known he had since childhood (his mother had it, too).

Whatever you want to call the small revenges against enemies and covert attempts to convince his husband to move, they make for an uneventful but amusing book that carves out territory somewhere in between Burroughs' painful early memoirs and the humorous, domestic essays of David Sedaris.

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