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Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors


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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

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One of the BEST

Callie Sawyer, fan of Non Fiction, Running With Scissors is a remarkable book within the memoir/biography/abuse genre. The book is all telling and yet there is a rare look at the abuse suffered with dignity and at times humor. I have read many such books. Running with Scissors compares easily to that of 'Nightmares Echo' (agree with prior reviewer),also due to the details of the book I compare it to Dry,The Privilege Of Youth, and A Million Little Pieces. In each of the afore-mentioned books you find a compelling story, sometimes sad, and sometimes they laugh within themselves at the 'luck of the draw' they got from childhood on. Yet, they never give up the fight for courage and determination.

What do you want to be, when YOU grow up

I read this book in two sittings. When I read the notes, I wanted it to be a biography, not fiction, well I must not have read close enough. Because it is as real as it is troubling and hilarious. Augusten Burrough's boyhood unraveled for all to see. I was impressed by not only the story, which is a classic, but Burroughs style and pacing. For all the heavy topics, he seems to be able to write it as he experienced it -- a troubled maybe, but seemingly optimistic, boy. From the beginning you identify with Burroughs. He brings out those generic memories long forgotten, like waiting for dad to get home and hearing the gravel pop under the wheels of the tires. But within that you start to sense a pattern of disturbance. And even if you can't identify with his fixation for shiny objects and desire to market hair products, or play a doctor on TV. You can identify with the fear and uncertainty of a young boy growing up without the normal anchors and boundaries. Uncertain about himself, his future and his family. This is a heroic work. It is sad and painful at times but up beat and uplfiting in the end. It is not without uncertainty and sorrow, but peppered also with humor and insight. In short it is a damn good slice of a boy's life.

I guess I really am normal

You know, everyone complains about how strange their families are, and I'm no exception. My family has stories, but after reading this, I guess I really am normal. ... Although the subject matter is fairly disturbing, I think the book is ultimately uplifting and humorous. Burroughs uses dark humor to make his subject matter easier to handle, but he really does show how horrible and stifling his childhood was. The characters are very developed, and the author is extremely insightful and reflective. However, if you don't like dealing with graphic sexuality, I would recommend not reading this. If, on the other hand, that doesn't really bother you, you'll read this in about 2 or 3 days.

I agree with the Washington Post -- it is spectacular!

rarely is a book this funny awarded the critical acclaim of a more demure author who treads the well-worn path of literature. Burroughs is strikingly original, yet adds a patina of poignancy and tenderness to his work that amazes as well as delights. from the very first story "Something Isn't Right," he hooks you with his storytelling ability and attention to detail. His is the most compelling memoir I've read in years. The critics agree: RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is a masterpiece, and a darkly comic coup. Most highly recommended.


...and oh so funny. This is one of those memoirs that compels you to read "just one more chapter" until you find you've finished the entire book while the work you meant to do piles up, suddenly unimportant. I have not laughed this hard since I read Naked by David Sedaris. The details alone catapult one back into the sordid seventies and eighties, while the characters leap off the page in all their gruesomely hilarious glory. I don't think I've ever read anything like this - Burroughs is a true original, and deftly avoids sentimentality or the urge to make his characters sympathetic. It's a wonderful book. I cannot wait to see what this young genius thinks of next. Highly recommended, and hugely entertaining.

Edition Details

Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Lowest Price:$3.59
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