With the controversy that swirled around the revelation that A Million Little Pieces was more fiction than not (something that I intuited in my original review of the book way back before it was a twinkle in Oprah’s eye), you’d think memoirists would be careful to not exaggerate a single detail of their lives. The problem is that real life is boring. We all embellish details of our big, fantastical tales. No doubt Borroughs≠ tour de force, Running with Scissors, was filled with dialogue inaccuracies and flourishes. The difference between that book and Pieces is that it didn’t challenge sacred cows like AA and pretend that it was a tale of inspiration and recovery. That was a book about a damaged family and the selfish, lazy, bitchy individual that emerged from it. It’s meant to entertain, not inspire. These short stories follow the same model, and even overlap some of the stories from that book. The problem here is that people only have so many stories in them. Uh, remember that time I fell off the stump in the back yard? Not much of a story. But add a little twist–and straight into the neighbor’s cesspool–and now that story has wings. It seems that Burroughs is reaching too often here; looking for any little nugget he can turn into a laugh or a lesson. He’s kind of painted himself into a corner with this memoir career, though. It’s inevitable that the well runs dry and he has to go to the half-truth, pastiche machine. Only a couple stories here are post~fame, so he better invent some new past, or hope that stupid things continue to happen to him. Maybe he should take a lesson from his doppelganger, David Sedaris, and seek out weird things to do in order to create stories. Burroughs certainly can’t fall back on his writing, as it’s not that strong, and he’s admittedly lazy, so I’m not sure how much more he has left in the tank. It honestly felt to me that he was mailing it in a bit and almost challenging the reader to call him on it. Of course it doesn’t help that most of his stories involve him being a jerk in some way, so the feeling he’s yanking your chain isn’t surprising. Well, I can’t wait for his next book: Falling Off That Stump.