SIBLING RIVALRY Burroughs, Robison (inset)
Augusten Burroughs will always be the little brother. Never mind that only the most astute Burroughs readers would ever pick up on the fact that he even has an older bro, or that said brother has Asperger's, a less-aggressive form of autism—and fewer still would know that said brother is a writer. (The brother received a passing mention in Running With Scissors.)
Burroughs still felt it necessary to introduce his older sib, John Elder Robison, to the world Tuesday night, at a Barnes & Noble reading of Robison's first memoir, Look Me in the Eye, an honest, insightful account of his life dealing with Asperger's. Then, like a fourth grader tantruming his way into stealing his older brother's turnover, Burroughs took over the night. The audience watched as his Augusten's magnificently shiny head, fame, and ego systematically outshined his older brother.
Burroughs emceed for a good part of the evening. He told Robison's story for him, made note of the instrumental role he played in his older brother's success (Burroughs told his brother to write the book and passed the manuscript to his agent), and continuously asked Robison to read the stories relating to him. At one point, Burroughs told a story that involved himself and asked his big brother, "Did you write about that?" Realizing he'd possibly revealed that he hadn't actually read his brother's book, he quickly corrected, "Did I write about that?"
It might sound brutal or unkind, but fans have proved more than willing to breath in the stench of this dysfunctional family's dirty laundry. Tuesday was just another evening at the Burroughs's.