Recently, at a talk at Harvard's Brattle Theatre, Augusten Burroughs joked that he was worried that people would try to return his book because... "It is broken, it's missing the funny." And while I will agree with Mr. Burroughs, a lot of A Wolf at the Table is not funny the book is definitely not broken.
This book is a heartfelt memoir with his recollections of what it was like to grow up with a distant and mentally abusive father (one who in his mind was also physically abusive to his mother). All young Augusten wanted in his younger years was some attention from his father, a hug or to sit on his lap, but his father always pulled away and was not willing to give him the attention he so desired. Burroughs internal dialogue is humorous in a dark manner and you feel for the poor child who just wants to be loved by his father. As he gets older he fears he is going to end up being like his father. While he has developed a hate for his father he still strives for approval, as a successful advertising executive he rattles off his accomplishments and all he receives in return is an, "Ok son I have to go." Even on his deathbed, his father can not manage to give Augusten a shred of actual love or approval.
Many people have criticized Burroughs believing that he can not remember all of these intimate details of his childhood. My stance is that he remembers them vividly because they were so important to him. He had a rough childhood and the one thing that he wanted he could not have. He tells his history with his father as he remember it. That is the idea behind a memoir, it is his story about his life, as he remembers it, and I think he did an excellent job.