Running with Scissors – Augusten Burroughs

Augusten Burroughs, some critics like to say, “goes where other memoirists fear to tread.”

I am not sure if this is exactly true – but god knows he is a brave writer. I just finished reading Running with Scissors, which I made myself read from a psychological distance – because otherwise, I might have vomited, and any number of times.

From Buroughs’ website: “Augusten’s second book [Running with Scissors] was a memoir. It was also a publishing phenomenon that helped to ignite a kind of memoir fever in America and abroad. Running with Scissors was released in 2001 to virtually unanimous critical acclaim. The memoir would ultimately remain on the New York Times bestseller list for over four consecutive years, eight months of which were spent in the #1 position….”

This is wonderful achievement. And if even half of what Burroughs writes is true (I believe it is: it had “the ring”), I say god bless him and long may his success last. But beyond this, I find it hard to write about him in a sustained manner. As directed, I’ve read the book and today, all I really want to do is push that experience and all its yucky lingering feelings away from me, as far as possible.  I agree that his sense of humour is original and keen. I also think his memoir(s) is a culmination of the “horror memoirs” that might have begun with Christina Crawford’s memoir, Mummy Dearest. (Not really sure when these “tell-alls” by adult children of famous parents began; must check.)  I think Burroughs is a fine writer and he needed these memoirs of his the way we all need air. And water, shelter and love. How some people survive and then defy their childhoods, remains a mystery to me….

So again, this latest reading venture is over and done with, and perhaps I can discuss the book more critically and in depth, another time.

One last interesting note: Burroughs counts among his dear friends the author Haven Kimmel, who wrote A Girl Named Zippy. Now that memoir I enjoyed, for all that it was odd and occasionally gut-dicing. I wonder how Kimmel and Burroughs came to be friends?

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