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Running with Scissors: A Memoir
Narrated by Augusten Burroughs
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Running with Scissors: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Augusten Burroughs
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,120 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $8.89
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead-ringer for Santa and a lunatic in the bargain. Suddenly, at age twelve, Augusten Burroughs found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian in perfect squalor. The doctor's bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules, there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, and Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock therapy machine under the stairs....

Running with Scissors is at turns foul and harrowing, compelling and maniacally funny. But above all, it chronicles an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.
Running with Scissors Acknowledgments
Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe it: Jennifer Enderlin, Christopher Schelling, John Murphy, Gregg Sullivan, Kim Cardascia, Michael Storrings, and everyone at St. Martin’s Press. Thank you: Lawrence David, Suzanne Finnamore, Robert Rodi, Bret Easton Ellis, Jon Pepoon, Lee Lodes, Jeff Soares, Kevin Weidenbacher, Lynda Pearson, Lona Walburn, Lori Greenburg, John DePretis, and Sheila Cobb. I would also like to express my appreciation to my mother and father for, no matter how inadvertently, giving me such a memorable childhood. Additionally, I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent, and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running with Scissors. Most of all, I would like to thank my brother for demonstrating, by example, the importance of being wholly unique.

Editorial Reviews Review

There is a passage early in Augusten Burroughs's harrowing and highly entertaining memoir, Running with Scissors, that speaks volumes about the author. While going to the garbage dump with his father, young Augusten spots a chipped, glass-top coffee table that he longs to bring home. "I knew I could hide the chip by fanning a display of magazines on the surface, like in a doctor's office," he writes, "And it certainly wouldn't be dirty after I polished it with Windex for three hours." There were certainly numerous chips in the childhood Burroughs describes: an alcoholic father, an unstable mother who gives him up for adoption to her therapist, and an adolescence spent as part of the therapist's eccentric extended family, gobbling prescription meds and fooling around with both an old electroshock machine and a pedophile who lives in a shed out back. But just as he dreamed of doing with that old table, Burroughs employs a vigorous program of decoration and fervent polishing to a life that many would have simply thrown in a landfill. Despite her abandonment, he never gives up on his increasingly unbalanced mother. And rather than despair about his lot, he glamorizes it: planning a "beauty empire" and performing an a capella version of "You Light Up My Life" at a local mental ward. Burroughs's perspective achieves a crucial balance for a memoir: emotional but not self-involved, observant but not clinical, funny but not deliberately comic. And it's ultimately a feel-good story: as he steers through a challenging childhood, there's always a sense that Burroughs's survivor mentality will guide him through and that the coffee table will be salvaged after all. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

"Bookman gave me attention. We would go for long walks and talk about all sorts of things. Like how awful the nuns were in his Catholic school when he was a kid and how you have to roll your lips over your teeth when you give a blowjob," writes Burroughs (Sellevision) about his affair, at age 13, with the 33-year-old son of his mother's psychiatrist. That his mother sent him to live with her shrink (who felt that the affair was good therapy for Burroughs) shows that this is not just another 1980s coming-of-age story. The son of a poet with a "wild mental imbalance" and a professor with a "pitch-black dark side," Burroughs is sent to live with Dr. Finch when his parents separate and his mother comes out as a lesbian. While life in the Finch household is often overwhelming (the doctor talks about masturbating to photos of Golda Meir while his wife rages about his adulterous behavior), Burroughs learns "your life [is] your own and no adult should be allowed to shape it for you." There are wonderful moments of paradoxical humor Burroughs, who accepts his homosexuality as a teen, rejects the squeaky-clean pop icon Anita Bryant because she was "tacky and classless" as well as some horrifying moments, as when one of Finch's daughters has a semi-breakdown and thinks that her cat has come back from the dead. Beautifully written with a finely tuned sense of style and wit the occasional clich‚ ("Life would be fabric-softener, tuna-salad-on-white, PTA-meeting normal") stands out anomalously this memoir of a nightmarish youth is both compulsively entertaining and tremendously provocative.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 486 KB
  • Print Length: 319 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002ASFPX2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,401 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
319 of 358 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly hilarious January 20, 2003
I found myself laughing hysterically at this book while simultaneously shaking my head in horror. It's the story of Burrough's life from the age of roughly 13 to 16. Burrough's lived a middle-classed life, but the people around him were gradually losing it. His mother began to have "psychotic breaks" (although it sounds like she may have had bipolar disorder) and hooked up with a bizarre psychiatrist - Dr. Finch. Soon, every aspect of their lives are touched by Dr. Finch and his equally bizarre family. At times, the events are horrifying, such as Burrough's molestation by Dr. Finch's adopted son. Remarkably, Burrough's manages to find the humor even in these situations. People are likely to compare Burrough's to another gay humorist, David Sedaris; however, Burrough's stories are far darker than those of Sedaris, although both of them write great funny stories. This book was a tremendously quick read, and I laughed out loud more than any recent book I've read. Highly recommended on that basis, but some readers are likely to be highly offended by some of the content.
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103 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly honest--and disturbingly funny March 16, 2003
When he was a teenager in Massachusetts during the 1970s, Augusten Burroughs kept daily journals recording everything that happened to him. "Running with Scissors" is a result of those journals, but it's unlikely that anyone who suffered experiences like his would need a journal to recall them. Instead, his diaries both gave him the therapeutic outlet he needed while growing up and supplied this book with the rich detail that makes it, at times, so unbelievable.
Burrough's mother was a struggling poet who wanted to be like Anne Sexton, and, lacking any talent, she instead suffered Sexton's psychotic episodes. The father, unable to deal with his wife's instability, drank himself out of the relationship. Eventually, Burroughs is abandoned by his family and adopted by his mother's psychiatrist, a certifiable lunatic who dispenses drugs and sex far more diligently than sound advice and who believes discipline is an evil to be avoided at all costs. To complicate an already disastrous situation, other members of this adopted family include several deeply disturbed individuals, including a pedophile who finds a ready victim in the 14-year-old Burroughs.
I read this book two months ago, and, while I found it simultaneously appalling and enjoyable, I didn't know what to make of it. Since then, I've read several press reports that address some of the rumors generated by this book's publication. No, none of the people described in this book have sued (or threatened to sue) the author for libel. True, no child with the name "Augusten Burroughs" ever lived anywhere near Northampton--because Burroughs legally changed his name when he was 18. In sum, I've read nothing to indicate that Burroughs is making it all up.
Yet there are two criticisms of the book I don't understand.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could anyone's life BE any stranger!!! June 3, 2004
I saw the cover and chuckled, thinking, aw, this will be a cute story. My God, how wrong was I? Augusten Burroughs writes a memoir of his young years growing up in not only one, but two totally disfunctional households. His parents despise each other and you begin to wonder on which page one might kill the other.
Mom is totally dependent on her psychiatrist, spending endless hours with him. He is portrayed as a Santa Claus-type person...
a right jolly old elf. When Augusten is left to stay with psychiatrist and family, we are plunged into a household that goes WAY beyond bizarre! You really have to read it to believe it. I honestly looked at his picture on the back cover at least
20 times while reading the book wondering how this guy could look so normal after what he had been through!
This is one mind-blowing read. I was so intrigued by his story that I went on NPR's web-site to listen to his interviews.
Gosh, he sounds so grounded...and yet how could it be?
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not funny, disturbing and upsetting February 4, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We have all heard the bad rap some writers have gotten over what constitutes a memoir. Did it really happen? Have you fabricated parts to make it more enticing to the reader? Will Oprah come down hard on you when she finds out you fibbed on the details? While reading "Running With Scissors" I found myself asking these questions over and over again. Could it really be possible there was a man who had his children retrieve his excrement and save it on the family's picnic table, believing they were direct messages from God? The same man who gave his blessing to a "relationship" between his 30 something year old adopted son and 13 year old Augusten, his patient/ward? Could it be possible this man was a psychiatrist and he wasn't arrested for child abuse but eventually just insurance fraud?

If just half of this memoir is true, Augusten Burroughs is lucky to be alive and able to tell his story. Some people who have read this book call it funny or hilarious and I just don't see that. Shocking, disturbing, unbelievable are terms that come to mind but not funny. I suppose it's like laughing at absurdities but I still find the entire story more incredulous than anything. The subject matter of insanity, psychic breaks, pedophilia, and child neglect hardly warrants a chuckle and it chills me to the core that this all might actually have happened. Burroughs tells a frightening story of his turbulent adolescence and he somehow made it out alive but don't make the mistake of thinking you are going to find comedy between these pages. Reading this book was like watching a train wreck, hard to look away but repulsed just the same.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great book from a great author!!!
Published 1 day ago by SPDMSW
5.0 out of 5 stars very good read
I like his work
Published 2 days ago by Catherine Cammarata
5.0 out of 5 stars Awedome author
I love Augusten Burroughs - he is very funny, detailed and graphic.
Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Not My Kind of Reading
Apparently it appeals to some, as I read several reviews that made it sound worth reading.
Published 5 days ago by Beverly Keen
5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing writer!
Man, I peed myself twice laughing at this freakin' book. What a riot. It's also horribly sad in other parts, but he writes in such a way that brings you right back up again. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Taylor Hastings
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, in terms of what the author had ...
Not an easy read, in terms of what the author had to survive, growing up. But a very interesting story & it definitely kept my interest.
Published 11 days ago by Laurel Shand
3.0 out of 5 stars ... because it was referenced in another book that I loved...
I chose this book because it was referenced in another book that I loved (E-squared); I learned that Augusten Burroughs transformed his life from that of a skid row alcoholic to a... Read more
Published 19 days ago by burdli
3.0 out of 5 stars this seller sold me a this with a very scratched CD
The book on tape was great, meaning the story was great. But hello --- one of the CD's was totally scratched, and at such an interesting part!!!! Read more
Published 21 days ago by sd
5.0 out of 5 stars disturbingly intriguing
Couldn't put this down although felt like I should walk away a few times. Great humor thru a rough and disturbing life.
Published 26 days ago by becca
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Augusten Burroughs is hilarious
Brilliant. Augusten Burroughs is hilarious, real and very relatable, even though he led one heck of a different young life.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Augusten Burroughs is the author of the autobiographical works "Running with Scissors," "Dry," "Magical Thinking," "Possible Side Effects" and "A Wolf at the Table," all of which were New York Times bestsellers. "Running with Scissors" remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two consecutive years and was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Annette Bening. His only novel, "Sellevision," is currently in development as a series for NBC. "Dry," Augusten's memoir of his alcoholism and recovery, is being developed by Showtime. In addition, Burroughs is currently creating an original prime-time series for CBS. Augusten's latest book is called "You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas."

Twice named to Entertainment Weekly's list of the funniest people in America, Augusten has also been the subject of a Vanity Fair cover story and a Jeopardy! answer. His books have made guest appearances in two James Patterson novels, one Linkin Park music video, numerous television shows and a porn movie.

Augusten has been a photographer since childhood and many of his images can be seen on his website, He lives in New York City.

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Welcome to the Running with Scissors forum
I agree.....this book was trash, and I can't believe I paid for it.
Apr 28, 2007 by Kelara |  See all 7 posts
Running with Scissors
Hi Sherri,

Your perspective is indeed fair and valid.

And yes, I agree that it is a persons right to exorcise his or her demons of the past through writing, singing, dancing, painting, poetry, working with animals or any other method which works form them. However, when one decides to go public... Read More
Jul 19, 2007 by anonymous aussie |  See all 5 posts
Running W Scissors and the Sunset Strip Diaries- More like this? Be the first to reply
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