Free eBook Running with ScissorsAuthor Augusten Burroughs – Wildlives.co
Today s review is much longer than Goodreads word count limitations Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted here illegally I ve mentioned here regularly the entire idea of there being an underground arts canon that is, that just like the academic community, what we call the modern cutting edge arts has now been around long enough arguably since the early 1900s that we can now say, If you want to consider yourself well versed on the subject, you need to make sure to read this person and this person and this person This is a hugely important subject among intellectuals, after all, because that s what intellectualism is mostly based on in the first place of that entire group of deep thinkers coming together and collectively deciding what is most important to their group, of what most directly and profoundly helps any intelligent person understand what that group is all about And thus in the last year and a half have I been desperately trying to fill in the holes of such a canon in my own life for those who don t know, see, I spent the 15 years before opening CCLaP not as an academe but as an actual working artist, so mostly spent those years actually photographing and writing instead of reading and studying It s important that I fill in these intellectual gaps now, precisely because I am trying to be a full time arts critic these days, because it matters with artistic criticism just how much you know about the subject and thus it is that I m constantly having to admit these days to a woeful lack of exposure to this artist or that, as I finally make my way through the first of their projects and talk about them here at the site.And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to gay Generation X memoirist Augusten Burroughs because Burroughs is precisely one of these shining lights of the so called contemporary canon, according to his fans, one of those must read authors you absolutely need to be familiar with, in order to understand the contemporary underground arts in any kind of sophisticated way whatsoever His work has previously always simply eluded my attention, for whatever reason before last week, not only had I never read any of his books, I hadn t even seen the slick high budget 2006 Hollywood adaptation that was made of his first bestseller, the horrifically comedic comedically horrific coming of age tale Running with Scissors, much less the four other freaking personal memoirs written since or the absurdist novel written before And whether you like him or hate him, the simple fact is that my non knowledge of his work is a weakness for me as a critic and book reviewer there are simply so many people familiar with his books by now, so many references made in other literary reviews to his manuscripts, that any decent reporter of the underground needs to make sure they re familiar with him, for no other reason than so they re on the same page as other lovers of the underground.And it s all this, of course, that made it even such a bigger shock than normal when I actually sat down and read two of Burroughs memoirs, his oldest the aforementioned Scissors from 2002 and newest A Wolf at the Table, from 2008 , and realized the following Oh my God, Augusten Burroughs memoirs f cking suck How can this be , any intelligent person will ask at that moment how can it be that these books have had so much praise heaped on them over the years, when they turn out to be such weak excuses for compelling literature Has there beenwhat, a massive hypnotic spell placed over all the people who gush and gush about the stirring prose and fascinating storylines found within Has the collective lack of education and anti intellectual stirrings of Neocon America over the last thirty years finally hit its tipping point, with the American populace simply no longer able to distinguish good books from bad ones Is that what happenedOr is it that Burroughs got in during the last gasp of an artistic movement that we now consider trite and passe, exactly the Generation X house of cards I mentioned earlier, and thus suffers the dated wrath of a veteran like Douglas Coupland but at a fraction of the time Because let s make no mistake when the snotty pop culture historians of the future think back to these days, and specifically the whole New Age middle class suburban Oprah Hillary It Takes A Village politically correct pink ribbon crowd, they will think of Augusten Burroughs. Because that s basically what both of these books are, through and through, from the first page to ostensibly the last they are whiny, victim oriented, badly written, semi made up so called true stories about just how bad poor little Augusten has had it his whole whimsically funny life, of how every terrible thing that s ever happened to him is everyone else s fault but his own, and how by the way all those bad things just happened to be poetically poignant and contained the exact kind of dialogue that makes middle aged suburban Oprah worshipping pink ribbon wearing New Age soccer moms swoon Nice coincidence, that And in fact, that brings up one of the first and ultimately biggest problems I encountered with Burroughs work, when I tried to make my way through it for the first time last week that it simply comes off as untrue, as made up, not exactly a lie under the legal definition of the term, but definitely cutsied up so bad that it might as well be a fictional story Because, see, for those who don t know, both of the books under review today supposedly cover Burroughs early childhood among dysfunctional hippies in the let it all hang out 1970s, a series of vignettes that he actually writes from the mindset and viewpoint of that particular age so in other words, if he s recalling an event from when he was five years old, he actually writes it as a five year old would supposedly see it And in that manner, Burroughs essentially gets to have his cake and eat it too he gets to say outrageously offensive things about all the real people around him at that time in his life, absurdly unprovable things that rely as much on magical realism asyou know, realism, while still having the convenient James Frey Oprahesque New Age excuse of, I m a writer, and I m paid to write about how something felt And this is how these events felt to me And it doesn t matter if what I say is exactly true or not, not from a factual standpoint, because they are factual accounts of how I felt at that moment, or perhaps how I felt thirty years later when looking back on it through the filter of a mainstream publishing contract and looming deadline I think it s very telling, for example, that his own parents freaking sued him for defamation when Scissors came out , but that this hasn t stopped any of these publishing companies from continuing to put out, put out, put out yet another semi crap childhood memoir and yet another semi crap childhood memoir by him Because simply, we live in an age where a huge majority of the American public can no longer distinguish fact from fiction an age where over 50 percent of all Americans believe that The DaVinci Code is a true story, an age where over 50 percent of all Americans believe that The Secret is a true story And that s because our country s educational system has been steadily crumbling since the end of World War Two, since the moment the US first started embracing the military industrial complex, and first started diverting and of our national budget away from everything else and towards the military No one gets a decent education in the United States any, critics claim, not unless they seek one out as an adult as the theory goes and therefore most Americans are no longer even educated enough to understand the difference between true and made up, the difference between science and Intelligent Design i.e Creationism with a new name , the difference between memoir and sh t I pulled out of my ass that sounds all tragic and crap, and that no one can exactly either prove or disprove And that s why earlier, I said that I was only guessing at what was the ostensible endings of these books because to admit the absolute truth, I only made it about halfway through Running With Scissors before finally giving up, and couldn t even get thirty pages into A Wolf at the Table without doing the same And seriously, Mr Burroughs, if you just happen to ever come across this review I understand that writers with unique voices are easy to parody, precisely because they have unique voices, but do you really have to make it so damn tempting as well Me Pre natal What are these fleshy jail cell walls that hold me in so tightly Probably the result of my mother, of course, the cocktail swilling fool I wish to yell at her, wish to express my disgust at her smothering yet cold presence But then I realize Oh yes, that s right, I m a fetus. I m not yet capable of advanced thought or human speech So why is it that I m already so eerily attracted to the Six Million Dollar Man UGH It s writers like Augusten Burroughs that makes me want to turn my entire back on Generation X in general, despite me actually being a member of Generation X it s books like these that makes me understand why kids currently in their twenties hate me and my friends so much, of why they feel the desire to angrily vomit whenever the subjects of tribal tattoos or Pearl Jam are I read this book in about four hours perhaps that s as good an encapsulation for the experience as I can give.I like the eccentric, non plot driven memoir that sounds too strange to be true and because it exists, because it ACTUALLY happened unlike you, James Frey , it merits thoughts about American families in addition to the ironies of self obsessed psychologies.Written in cute concise prose, even if some jokes do not actually make you laugh but sicken you to the point of feeling truly bad for the preteen hero, the entire account is enormously entertaining, as is evident by the fast consumption of it.The movie is actually bad despite Anette Bening, the creator of Nip Tuck the film s director does not go to where this descriptively homosexual, deeply self reliant misfit of a person goes. The True Story Of An Outlaw Childhood Where Rules Were Unheard Of, The Christmas Tree Stayed Up All Year Round, Valium Was Consumed Like Candy, And If Things Got Dull An Electroshock Therapy Machine Could Provide EntertainmentRunning With Scissors Is The True Story Of A Boy Whose Mother A Poet With Delusions Of Anne Sexton Gave Him Away To Be Raised By Her Unorthodox Psychiatrist Who Bore A Striking Resemblance To Santa Claus So At The Age Of Twelve, Burroughs Found Himself Amidst Victorian Squalor Living With The Doctor S Bizarre Family, And Befriending A Pedophile Who Resided In The Backyard Shed The Story Of An Outlaw Childhood Where Rules Were Unheard Of, And The Christmas Tree Stayed Up All Year Round, Where Valium Was Consumed Like Candy, And If Things Got Dull An Electroshock Therapy Machine Could Provide Entertainment The Funny, Harrowing And Bestselling Account Of An Ordinary Boy S Survival Under The Most Extraordinary Circumstances I learned, along with the rest of my reading group, that running with scissors is preferable to reading this book. After digesting for over a month now, I still feel this autobiography memoir beyond bizarre and belief.Can all of it really be true Can I believe the doctor depict herein holds a medical degree from one of the most prestigious universities in America, i.e..Yale Hmmmmm.pretty hard to believe, and disheartening too.Anyway, it s the 1970 s and all hell breaks loose when 12 year old Augusten s disturbed poetry writing mother and alcoholic father divorce and mother dear ultimately sends him off to live in the sagging pink house of her psychiatrist, Dr Finch.His filthy wreck of a house is filled with his childrenadopted includedand is open to virtually anyone else who wants to stay for a spell Most residents are a bit strange, to say the least, including a 33 year old gay pedophile who likes to eat dog food.With zero parental guidance, role models from hell and a continual..disgusting..dysfunctional..environment, of course Augusten s life was in turmoil and if even half of what I read here is true, it is a wonder AB made it out in one piece.physically and mentally.As for the good doctor.Good Lord An office visit includes a tour and description of his Masturbatorium that patients are invited to use.the crazy Doctor also believes in evaluating his own sh t to foretell the futurealthough, of course, he doesn t scoop it himself..and well, the list goes on and on including the bizarre family bible dip predictions, but you get the picture The smartest family member was actually the old family dog who decided it best to stay on at the original residence with strangers Wish poor Freud the starved cat COULD have followed his lead.RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is 13 on the Goodread s Best Autobiography and Non fiction life stories list Read it and see what you think Didn t have a problem with EDUCATEDread back to back with RWSbut sure found this one hard to swallow Yikes Burroughs offers a book that is supposedly a memoir If so, then truth is definitely stranger than fiction Let s say I am skeptical If you thought you had a tough adolescence a look at Burroughs tale will put your experience into a little perspective He grew up in western Massachusetts to a mother who was probably bi polar, in what seems like ground zero for inappropriate behavior She was seeing a peculiar psychiatrist who had a fondness for having patients come to live at his home, a chaotic household that was a combination of You Can t Take it With You and the Addams Family Augusten s mother, unable to cope, essentially gives her son to the shrink That Augusten was gay adds even color to this That he engages in an affair, as a thirteen year old, with one of the shrink s adopted children, a man in his thirties, makes that a dark color indeed Augusten Burroughs from his siteWhile one may feel some sympathy for the author, who had difficulties in school, who was very much a free spirit, who had a pretty awful family, and had to cope with the ostracism and hostility engendered by his sexual inclination, he does not seem like a person I would want to know Maybe as an adult he grew out of some of the destructive behavior depicted here One does not have to like the author, or his character in a book, to appreciate the work itself It is an engaging, fast read and I was drawn in for the duration While Running With Scissors may be tough to swallow as pure, fact based memoir, I found that treating it as if it were labeled a novel made it all go down a lot easier EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter and FB pages Family settles with Running with Scissors author, publisherBy Rodrique Ngowi, Associated Press Writer August 29, 2007BOSTON A family that claimed author Augusten Burroughs defamed them in his best selling book Running with Scissors has settled a lawsuit against the author and his publisher, their attorney said Wednesday.Burroughs and his publisher, St Martin s Press, agree to call the work a book instead of memoirs, in the author s note and to change the acknowledgments page in future editions to say that the Turcotte family s memories of events he describes are different than my own, and expressing regret for any unintentional harm to them, according to Howard Cooper, an attorney for the family He said financial terms of the settlement are confidential.The family s lawsuit had sought 2 million in damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress It alleged the book is largely fictional and written in a sensational way to increase its market appeal, and demanded a public retraction and an acknowledgment that Running With Scissors is a work of fiction.An attorney for Burroughs declined comment, and St Martin s Press did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.Burroughs has said the book is only loosely based on his life.According to a statement from the family s attorneys, Burroughs new acknowledgments note will say that the Turcottes are each fine, decent, and hardworking people, and that the book was not intended to hurt them.The deal comes 10 months after the family said it had mutually resolved issues with Sony Pictures Entertainment to avoid a lawsuit over a movie based on the book With this settlement, together with our settlement with Sony last year, we have achieved everything we set out to accomplish when we filed suit two years ago, the family said in the statement We have always maintained that the book is fictionalized and defamatory This settlement is the most powerful vindication of those sentiments that we can imagine Burroughs, formerly Christopher Robison, lived with the Turcottes in Northampton as a teenager According to the lawsuit, Burroughs entire family was in therapy with Dr Rodolph Turcotte, a psychiatrist In 1980, Burroughs mother asked Turcotte to become his legal guardian so he could attend Northampton schools His mother still cared for him, but he had a room at the Turcottes home.Though the family in Burroughs book is named the Finches, the lawsuit claims they are easily identified as the Turcottes, and that Burroughs identified them in interviews.Events in the book which the suit claimed were false include the Turcottes condoning sexual affairs between children and adults, Turcotte s wife eating dog food and the family using an electroshock machine it stored under the stairs The lawsuit claims the book also falsely portrays a home in unbelievable squalor, with a young child running around naked and defecating, and old turkey being stored in the showers. Frenetic and sensational, Running with Scissors explores what it means to endure a dysfunctional childhood Over the course of dozens of fast paced vignettes, Augusten Burroughs recounts his unconventional upbringing his parents divorced, his mother granted legal custody of her gay son to her eccentric psychiatrist, a 33 year old pedophile living nearby soon started to prey on him Burroughs recollects traumatic event after traumatic event, but a perverse kind of humor pervades the narrative, which is sometimes funny but often disturbing and incredible The book fictionalizes the author s biography, making it closer to autofiction than memoir, and much of it feels embellished While the individual vignettes are engaging, the book lacks direction and structure, and it becomes repetitive and tiresome if read uninterrupted. I found this book profoundly disturbing and torturous to read I understand that it is cleansing and theraputic for those that have been traumitized to write talk aobut their problems to help with the healing process There are very few things that my ironclad stomach can t suffer and my brain is developed enough to handle even the most shocking of situations This book tested my patience from begining to end and in the end I was very dissapointed.First off, from reviews and the book cover I was given the impression that regardless of the contents within that this was a humurous look at this parcitular authors teenage years What I found instead were rampant displays of sloth, decay and enough illegal activities to jail every one of the characters for 5 15 years in a PMIA prison Debauchery doesn t disurb me in the slightest and I have a pension for books that provide plenty of shock and awe regardless of the legality Secondly, the fact that such a gathering of mentally fucked people was not only allowed but encouraged disurbs me greatlymostly because I find that this is an unfortunate circumstance that can be found in any city any where in the world The truth of the book is what made me hate it Rather than having hope for the characters I found that I wanted to euthanize them all just to end their misery But hey three chapters of development and then putting them all down like rabbid dogs would have made for an even worse book.On a final note SPOILER ALERT if I was expecting a book detailing the disgusting side of middle America, horrendous images of mental illness, gay molestation and multiple lives ruined from neglect and substandard care I might have enjoyed it and found nothing humurous or uplifting on how the author presented.This might be a rare case where I don t bother to even give an author a second chance because of how bad this book was. She wasn t Let s paint the kitchen red crazy She was full on head in the oven, toothpaste sandwich, I am God crazy..paraphrased, but you get it..