Book Club Book Review: Running with Scissors

Our book club selection for August is Augusten Burrough’s Running With Scissors, a memoir described by critics as “screamingly funny” and “Dave Pelzer* with a whoopee cushion attached” but really, I found it to be a disturbing tale of a young boy who grew up in a situation that no child should ever have to experience. When I was 12, I was playing in my friend April’s basement with her Michael Jackson Barbie who had an illicit affair with my Maxi doll, but Augusten was having sex with his 33 year old boyfriend at his apartment with the permission of his legal guardian, who happened to be his mother’s psychiatrist/rapist. “WTF?” you say? Yes, WTF.

I read this book in its entirety yesterday and I find myself utterly wrapped up in its insanity today. I’ve scoured the Internet for data on this book, and I find myself unsure what to believe. Although Burroughs did not release the real name of the family he referred to in his book as the “Finches” it was easy enough for people to put together the facts of a local family with the stories shared in the book. The Turcotte family recently sued Burroughs and his publisher for defamation and it ended with a $2M settlement, but frankly, I don’t know who to believe. Some of the stories in the book seem so far-fetched and Burroughs comes across as someone who definitely could use a little attention in his life, but I don’t know who to believe. Or even who I want to believe, given the disturbing nature of his stories. I will not delve into details because as an avid reader, I love to be surprised and usually won’t read reviews until after I’ve read a book, so I can read the book without any preconceived notions. There were several sections of this book that left me aghast, and I think every reader should have that same pleasure horror. I’ll post an update once we discuss the book at our next book club meeting, but I’m definitely interested to hear what the other gals think of this work. I think I’ll get another one of his memoirs out of the library and see if I also feel that it is over-sensationalized for the sake of “art”. Though, if it is fictional story, I guess I could make a lot of money writing my memoirs to suit my fancy.

If you’d like to read more about the scandal, visit the Vanity Fair article. I also read a couple of interviews with his mother, and I tend to believe that she is just as crazy as he portrayed-or certainly as self-centered.  There is also a movie based on the book if you’re interested in furthering your dive into disturbia. 

I don’t really recommend this book.  If you’re interested in some very dark stories, pick it up at your local library.  If you’re not into that thing, enjoy something wholesome and wonderful and thank me later. 

 *Dave Pelzer is the author who chronicled his tale of child abuse in “A Child Called It”. I read that book in early college and it’s fair to say there wasn’t a damn thing funny about it. I think there is something severely wrong with these critics who find this “funny and irreverent” instead of “deplorable and unfathomable”.

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