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Running with Scissors: A Memoir Paperback – June 1, 2003
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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
"Nobody ever told me what to do, so why did I always feel so trapped?" questions Burroughs (Sellevision), in this flawless audio adaptation of his alternately riotous and heartbreaking memoir. At age 11, when the mood of his family home changed from one of "mere hatred to potential double homicide," Burroughs found himself abandoned by his unemotional, professor father and chain-smoking, wannabe-poet mother. Dumped at his parents' psychiatrist's roach-infested Victorian home, which contained enough confusion to keep his mind off the fact that his parents didn't want him, the author recalls in a voice as mutable and unique as his unconventional childhood the bizarre details of daily life in a home where bowel movements were seen as messages from God, staged suicides were a means of quitting school and sexual relationships between boys and middle-aged men were deemed acceptable. Infusing each character with personality, Burroughs most brilliantly captures his mother's distinctive Southern inflection with a voice that sounds like its been through a curling iron and the booming, deep voice of the shrink who adopted him. Despite the often heavy content, Burroughs alleviates this gravity with his unwavering sarcasm and humor, further enhanced by his knack for employing kitschy cultural references to the 1970s and '80s.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Note: After reading this, I was hooked on learning about the author's life. So, I immediately purchased all his other memoirs and read them in order. They were all excellent and well written. I admire him for his boldness and honesty.
The title captured my attention because running with scissors and other hazardous behaviors were strictly forbidden when I was growing up. At first it seemed that absolutely nothing was forbidden in this family. As the story unfolds a few seemingly incomprehensible rules are revealed. The reason for these rules becomes apparent near the end of the book.
Authors of autobiographical novels about family dysfunction rarely avoid the "poor me" syndrome. The author describes, but does not judge the family he grew up in.
This book demands that the reader suspend disbelief in order to continue; from my point of view, doing so was well worth the effort.
This is NOT the case with Burroughs's work.
This book never slows down, and you won't want it to. This is a you'll-lose-sleep-to-finish-it-in-one-setting kind of book.
The language, subject-matter, and overall tone are explicit - properly so, as this boy's childhood was explicit. The title says it all; Augusten ran, break-neck, through a psych ward of formative years, wielding a plethora of too-sharp, age-inappropriate objects along the way.
If you're easily offended, you might want to skip this one.
Otherwise, buy it, settle in when you have plenty of time, and hold on tight.
Ok so I read the book and I was laughing so hard and thought to myself that I have to watch the movie and the movie sucked big time.
Ok and now as for the book, I have to say Auggie had one of the most stangest childhood I have ever read about and he was surrounded by some pretty colorful characters.
There were times I was laughing out pretty loud and at times I sadly went "oh dear" (his sexual experiences etc) Sometimes I really wondered about lifestory while I commuted to work. SOme of the scenes were rather graphic and pedophilic undercurrents in the network of the family was disturbing.
Auggie's mother is a poet (mind you also with mental illnesses) and his father is a teacher/professor who is an alocoholic and boy do they fight. And their son, the author, is sent to live with his mother's therapist, Dr Finch.
Dr Finch and his family are really a mix of hippies and oddballs and other disturbing elements. But they are endearing too. Well, everyone is entitled to their beliefs and practices and so are the Finches.
And so his quirky stories begin. This is not a typical memoir. The author includes all the ugly stuff in it as well
What I loved about this book:
The author never makes himself look like a victim or survivor. He tells everything as it and how he constantly tried to make sense and struggle with growing up.
I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a different memoir to read!