Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Review of 'Running with Scissors' by Augusten Burroughs

"Running 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."

'Running with Scissors' is one of those books that has always hovered in the foreground of my life, but I had never thought to pick it up and read it until now.

It's certainly a strange book and not meant for younger readers-- there is a ton of swearing and sex scenes.  If these things don't particularly bother you in a book, then it could very well be worth a shot.

The amount of disorder in this book was staggering.  I'm not referring to Augusten Burroughs' writing style, but just the life he led in his earlier years.  It would definitely take a strong person to deal with the environment Augusten was put in.  I don't believe that I could ever handle that life the way he did.  Everything was dirty all the time and there were essentially no rules.  The people living in Dr. Finch's house were not expected to go to school, they could live with whomever they pleased, take new parents, sleep with drastically older lovers... there was no structure.  With this fact alone, everyone who sits down with this is in for a very interesting read.

It was extremely helpful that Burroughs kept everything in a roughly linear order.  It was very easy to tell what part of his story was "the present time" and when he was going off on a tangent in order to make something clearer for the reader.

It was nice to be able to see how Burroughs' younger self developed as years passed.  Through him, we could see the people around him develop.  I never expected Natalie to do as well in life as she did.  She was definitely a strong personality, but I could never truly tell how serious she was about the things that I consider worthwhile (such as education).

I would have loved to have learned more about Augusten's mother.  For me, she was one of the more intriguing people because of the poised way in which she carried herself.  She was a classy lady that sometimes lapsed into psychotic episodes.  The scariest part was when her episodes reared their ugly head more violently and more often.

Even more interesting than Augusten's mother was the family dynamic between the Finch's.  Agnes and Dr. Finch were the center of the family, but it seemed to be the kids who were essentially in control.  It was a very different experience in reading, that's for certain.

I liked Burroughs' writing style.  It strikes a balance between judgmental and subjective-- he offers up his opinion on the situations he's in and the ones he's not and speaks honestly and bluntly.  It's very nice to read this kind of style, but also very startling at times.

Overall, 'Running With Scissors' is a memoir that has and will continue to intrigue readers everywhere.  It's a very striking and honest memoir.  It should not be read by those who are bothered by sex or swearing.  Because there are quite a few parts like this.

I give 'Running With Scissors':
Thanks for Reading!


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