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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 28 February 2003
Ths book was recommended to me by a friend in America and I snapped it up as soon as it became available over here. My friend said I wouldn't be able to put it down. She was right. I read the entire thing in one sitting.
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.
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on 9 August 2013
This is a very adult book about childhood, you have to keep reminding yourself that throughout this period of his life the writer was a young boy / teenager. I love quirky but did not laugh out loud at the events. I understand that it contains some gallows type humour but the subject matter is serious, I didn't get the feeling that the writer was laughing much through this period. It is an interesting, thought-provoking read, some great one liners and insights. If you are looking for a read about a very unusual family then this fits the bill.
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on 5 May 2006
I read this book after reading an extract from it in a magazine and nothing could have prepared me for what I found. The book is a dark and disturbing memoir of a boy who is "raised" by the crazy family of his mother's psychiatrist. But don't be fooled, this is no navel-gazing, weighty tear-jerker; Burroughs writes candidly and with a dark humour and never encourages the reader to feel sorry for him or judge the bizarre parade of characters that pass through.

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.
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on 23 November 2014
Augusten Burroughs has written a beautiful and shocking memoir. 'Running with Scissors' explains how the author spent most of his teenage years in the company of a crazy psychiatrist and his dysfunctional family. Details of the memoir have drawn criticism ove the years. (Members of the family sued Burroughs for defamation.) Nevertheless, I must for this review assume that every recorded event is true. With this regard, Burroughs' work is remarkable for many reasons.

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.
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on 7 April 2004
I read this whole book in about 5 days,it really got me hooked from the start. It's such a surreal story it's hard to believe it really happened but it's a pretty amazing read. The life that Burroughs describes shows his flaws as a human,the way he's missed out in some aspects of life. It's pretty inspirational and highly entertaining. There are harrowing parts but this is never too intense as he brings natural humour to his narrative. The balance of seriousness and humour is just right and never seems forced. My only complaint is that it's not long enough!! I seriously really enjoyed this book, it's a bit out of the ordinary but well worth picking up as it will certainly make you think and make you smile.
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on 14 February 2014
I have read a number of memoirs - some funny, some sad, some unsettling but I had to kept reminding myself that this was an memoir more like a very badly written novel. After 4 chapters gave up particular with what I perceived gratuitous sex scenes. Not one for me
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If this were fiction, you might be forgiven for thinking this book was too far-fetched. Augusten is twleve years old when his story begins, and he endures the most extraordinary childhood. His mother is apparently deranged for much of the time, and is being treated by an equally mad psychiatrist, Dr. Fiinch. When his mother can no longer cope, Augusten is taken in by Dr. Finch and his chaotic family; a household where anything goes, chaos reigns, and it is fine (for example) to knock down the kitchen ceiling if you want a bit more air. Augusten is in turn befriended by Natalie, (Dr. Finch's daughter and one of the more sane people in the book), abused by Natalie's elder adopted brother, and when he decides he doesn't like school, Dr. Finch orchestrates his removal on (fictitious) health grounds. These are mere examples of the kind of thing that happened to him; there are many more.

At times, this book can be very funny (although at others, it feels as though the writer is trying too hard to amuse). Some of the characters are sympathetic (especially Natalie) although I never really empathised with Augusten himself (perhaps partly because he remains so extraordinarily unaffected by his experiences) . And there can be no doubt that the author is a consummate writer. But.... some of this book is very distasteful (espcially Dr. Finch's "masturbatorium", and the somewhat gratuitous detail of the paedophilia to which Augusten is subjected). Also, although I suppose it must be true, I do find it hard to believe that Dr. Finch would collect and lay out the family turds on the garden table, and use them to foretelll the future. Does the fact that this is apparently true make it any better? I'm not sure. It was certainly a rather disjointed read, reading more like a series of episodes rather than a straight narrative. There were parts that I enjoyed; other parts that I didn't. At times, I was entertained, and at others, a little bored.

Altogether, this was a mixed bag of a book. Almost four stars, but as I cannot really recommend it, it has to be three.
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on 20 December 2012
To be fair I don't usually read these sort of books but this was recommended. I do work in the field of mental Heath and just found so much of this story highly unlikely. Of course weird terrible things do happen in life but the author never seems to react to events in keeping with his personality. If this is a work of fiction the graphic scenes of sexual abuse seem gratuitous, if it's not fiction I'm just left very confused by it all. Feels like the author's cashing in. Not a good book on any level.
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on 29 December 2012
If you were to read this book as a work of fiction it would seem ridiculous in the extreme - like a very entertaining but overdone sitcom. To read this as a memoir is extremely disturbing. I have read this in two sittings and I need some time to think over some parts of it before I can form a final opinion, bit at this moment I am left feeling saddened and disturbed that children can grow up in this way, and at the same time awed that they can survive and even thrive in this environment. All credit to Augusten for his brutal honesty and very funny insights...but I am do feel the need for a hot cleansing shower right now. And perhaps a vodka.
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on 5 April 2008
I am surprised at some of the reviews on this book. I know we all have different tastes but i found it absolutely compelling, sadder than sad, yet at the same time, funny. An unusual book with so much going on...i couldn`t put it down. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed it too. One reviewer does not believe it all happened - i wonder why..?
A book worth buying in my opinion, and definately worth reading.
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