Running with Scissors: A Memoir Paperback – 4 Nov 2006
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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 medicines and fooling around with both an old electroshock machine and a paedophile 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 glamorises it: planning a "beauty empire" and performing an a cappella version of "You Light Up My Life" at a local mental ward.
Burroughs' 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' survivor mentality will guide him through and that the coffee table will be salvaged after all. --John Moe, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"'The Brady Bunch on Viagra' Observer 'Adrian Mole scripted by Hieronymous Bosch' The Times 'Running with Scissors sets a new standard... very well written' Sunday Times 'Funnier and more alarming than any memoir in recent history' Independent on Sunday"See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story recounts five years in the life of Augusten Burroughs. His mother, being crazy, gives up her son into the care of her psychiatrist, and life for 12 year old Augusten just gets even crazier. The book reads as though it is a comedy and, trust me, you will find yourself laughing out loud on several occasions, but there is nothing comedic about the contents of the book. Some of the events are so shocking they seem slightly unbelievable and just when you think things couldn't get any worse, Burroughs throws something even more terrible at you, and you are left reeling from the impact.
You have to keep reminding yourself that this is a memoir, that these things did really happen to this little boy. Burroughs lived through this and the fact that he has produced such a stunning memoir, and indeed written it with such humour, is truly remarkable.
I would advise everyone who has ever read a book to read this one. It may never win literary acclaim, but Running With Scissors is an amazing read. I never thought it was possible to feel both repulsion and warmth at the same time, but Burroughs has shown me how it is done. Then again, through Running With Scissors, Burroughs has opened my eyes to a lot of things.
I'm sure this book won't appeal to everyone and if you're looking for a probing, 'hankies at the ready' story of a scarred childhood, then this isn't for you; however, if you want a fascinating, darkly comic book that explores the seedier side of growing up, then this is an excellent choice.
There are several episodes in the memoir that might disgust the reader. As a boy, Burroughs was raped by a psychiatric patient. Dr. Finch, the crazy psychiatrist, encouraged him and his other wards to express anger irresponsibly. Over the course of the memoir, Burroughs and his peers lead a disordered life of immature hedonism, unchecked and unchained at any moment. As Burroughs observes later in the book, the trouble with nobody telling you what to do is that nobody tells you what not to do.
'Running with Scissors' is also remarkable for its written style. In an era when 'Tragic Life Stories' have become a hackneyed genre, Burroughs' memoir describes terrible circumstances without an ounce of self-pity and without a word of embellishment. Indeed, one might argue that the prose is muscular and colloquial, even ungrammatical. This is however a strength, not a fault. Burroughs' informal style allows the reader to feel comfortable reading about uncomfortable stories.
In summary, 'Running with Scissors' is a well-conceived, well-developed, and well-written read. I have no doubt that I'll be reading the author's other work in the near future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is a lot of light in this book and hope as Augusten finds his own place in the world but there is an awful lot of darkness as well. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Pamela Scott
It depends what you like to read and how open minded you can be about what you are reading...
This is a very odd book and the writer is basically a victim throughout it, but... Read more
Read it right now. I'd love to send hugs to Burroughs - you survivor. I couldn't put it down for 3 days solid.Published 2 months ago by Rachel Howard
I heard a lot about it and decided to give this one a go. I didn't really like it and thought it was not very believable as a true account of his life.Published 3 months ago by Ellie
Astounding. I loved this book. Burroughs' displays remarkable sensitivity, intelligence and an amazing strength of spirit in this terrifically funny account of his crazy,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Innisfree
Unfortunately, I wasn't too keen on this book. I'm not sure why?Published 5 months ago by Gwyneth Jones