- Fizzy Thoughts: Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Running with Scissors
Augusten Burroughs
320 pages

I’m not entirely sure what to think about this book.  After James Frey, I’ll confess to being a little leery about memoirs, especially ones that are a bit…”My parents sucked!  OMG my guardians suck, too!  And their house is the most disgusting place in the world!  And I’m having sex at an inappropriate age and with inappropriate people!  And no one cares!”

Not that I’m doubting that he had a bad childhood, or that sucky things happened to him, but when you’re writing a memoir and everyone calls you Augusten in the memoir but then your reader discovers you didn’t change your name until later on, well, said reader loses a bit of faith.  And then when you describe how disgusting the house in which you lived in was, and how casual everyone was about it, and then you have one of those same people freak out when they see dried locust shells (or something like that), well, said reader loses even more faith.  And then, come to find out, it seems there was a lawsuit over the book, with allegations from the guardian’s family about defamation of character and other unpleasantness.  What the hell am I supposed to believe after that?!?

So, to summarize.  Augusten (aka the child formerly known as Christopher) lives with his mother and father.  Parents divorce.  Mom has issues, and ends up giving custody of Augusten/Christopher to her shrink.  Yes, her shrink. A/C goes to live with the shrink and his family in a house of dubious cleanliness.  A/C ends up in an unhealthy relationship with a pedophile (who was also the adopted son of aforementioned shrink).  Shrink gets weirder and weirder.  Mom has episodes of wellness and episodes of not so wellness.  A/C is undoubtedly scarred for life. 

This book contains sex, dubious medical practices and the eating of dog food.  Read at your own risk.

18 comment(s):

bermudaonion said...

I didn't enjoy this one very much either. When I found out that my 82 year old mother bought a copy of it, I told her not to read it, but she did anyway. She loved it and passed it on to my 89 year old dad to read and he loved it as well. Go figure.

heatherlo said...

I agree with your feelings on this one. I read it years ago and remember thinking what the heck is all the hype about, it was way too weird for my tastes (and I've been known to have sort of weird tastes - hello, Geek Love anyone?). I would, however, recommend another one of his books, Dry, a memoir about how he got sober. It's much more real and less sensationalistic, and it's also very funny. If you haven't lost hope for Augusten/Christopher, I would suggest trying that one. It's also great on audio (if you do audio at all, I don't know) because he narrates it himself.

Ali said...

Didn't finish this one. It gave me a giant case of a I-don't-care-itis and I just shrugged my shoulders at about page 60 and took it back to the library. (That's interesting, Heather, I may have to try Dry and see how it strikes me.)

farmlanebooks said...

I have a copy of this and was thinking of reading it. I think I'll donate it to a good cause instead!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I read the follow-up book, "A Wolf At the Table" and I participated in the Picador Twitter book club with him there also. I thought he and his childhood sounded very plausible. I'm amazed that I'm one of the few people who think that, however!

claire said...

I never picked up an Augusten Burroughs book for the exact same reasons you mentioned. Was afraid of too much pretention, though I'm sure he wrote really well. But I did watch the movie though, forget which one, might be this.

Florinda said...

I've never really had much interest in reading this one, and now I feel better about that. Thanks for your review!

Ti said...

Reading your review, his life sounded very much like mine minus the pedophile and the shrink so such a lifestyle is not that far out there I guess.

Lisa said...

I'm with you. I didn't even finish, just stopped and traded it off. I just couldn't suspend my disbelief enough. I did read Frey's and believed it enough to keep going, until he was shown to be a liar.

Joanne said...

I would have enjoyed this if it had been marketed as Fiction!! But given as a memoir I spent most of the book calling bullshit on the unbelievability of it all.

Veens said...

I don't know your review is SO funny :D

I will not take the chance :)

Literary Feline said...

I guess because I've encountered families like this, I'm more apt to believe it could very well be true. Still, I think it's wise to take all memoirs with a grain of salt.

I actually liked this book. Found it funny in an offbeat way. Sure it was disgusting at times and very sad, but the author's use of humor helped me through the rougher patches.

Anna said...

I wasn't too fond on this book either. It seemed so far fetched to me, and then to hear about the lawsuit and the family saying what he claims isn't true. It's kind of hard to believe it's a memoir.

Diary of an Eccentric

Jenners said...

I actually really liked this book, and went on to read the rest of his writings (except for the new one about his father -- Wolf At the Table.) I also liked James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. (OK ... liked might be too strong of a word but I thought it was powerful.)

I'm not particularly bothered if a memoir is strictly true or not. I really don't see how anyone can write a memoir that is 100% accurate. My memories are so faulty sometimes but I THINK I am remembering them correctly. What matters to me is good writing and a good story and this book gave that to me.

It has been a while since I read it so I wonder if I would view it differently now that I have a more "critical" eye.

Kari said...

I read this book a long time ago, completely disliked it, and I am happy to FINALLY find someone else who shares my sentiments! I read it around the time the movie came out (because I wanted to read it before seeing the movie), and I thought it sucked so much that I never saw the movie. BLEH.

Ashley @ Ashley's Library said...

I didn't mind the book. I wouldn't call it one of my favorites but I did like the movie. When I read a memoir I think I am always a bit skeptical no matter who the writer is.

Beth F said...

I loved his DRY. So great. This one was not as great but I stilled like it.

Nymeth said...

I wonder how I'd feel about this one. Like Wendy, I've seen a few families that I wouldn't believe could exist if I came across them in a book, but on the other hand memoirs don't always work for me.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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