NEW YORK (AP) -- Those familiar with Augusten Burroughs' books ("Running With Scissors," ''Dry," ''A Wolf at the Table") know he's experienced more in his 46 years than most people.
His mother essentially gave him to her seemingly crazy psychiatrist, he had an affair with a man in his 30s when he was in his early teens, his father terrified him, he battled alcoholism and lost a loved one to complications from HIV. He writes about all of this with honesty, detail -- even humor.
In his latest book, "This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike" (St. Martin's Press), he takes what he's learned from his eccentric past and shares it with readers so they hopefully can work through their own problems.
AP: Why did you write this book?
Burroughs: For as long as I've been an author, strangers will share the most intimate details of their life with me. ... That's a powerful thing. But I find that rather than making me feel uncomfortable or awkward, I love it, and I've kind of been this way since I was very young with respect to other people's problems or issues, I've always had a way to zero in on what's the real issue, what's the real point and see the solution.
AP: What kind of topics do you address in your new book?
Burroughs: I talk about a huge range of topics from being suicidal to dieting to losing a child. There are some things in life you're not gonna heal from, you know? Heal is like a television word. Just really grasping that and also understanding that's OK though. You can be full of holes like a piece of Swiss cheese and your life can go on and the best moments from your life can be ahead of you but they're gonna be sitting there side by side in your heart with the worst moments of your life and that is fine. It doesn't have to make you a darker person. It can make you a deeper person.
AP: Does this book mean you're free of problems?
Burroughs: I have an endless treadmill of problems, and I always have. One of the reasons I'm so good at overcoming obstacles is because I have a lot of them. I haven't moved beyond problems. I'm sort of psychologically ambitious. The problems don't go away, but you can get better at handling them.
AP: You write about going through a recent breakup. What did you learn from that?
Burroughs: My life that I had built with my previous partner just imploded all around me. I found myself living with someone who couldn't stand me. There were moments when I didn't know if I'd be able to survive that. I thought, 'I'm not 19 years old anymore. This is too much.' It wasn't too much. It felt like too much. And there's a big difference.
AP: One thing people like about your writing is how you share these outrageous experiences and yet you're so funny. Do you make yourself laugh when you write?
Burroughs: Almost never. I'm one of those people, too, that when I find something funny I'm like (completely serious), 'Oh, wow. That is really hilarious.' It's rare that I laugh at my own stuff.
Alicia Rancilio covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow her online at http://www.twitter.com/aliciar