Title: Running with Scissors: A Memoir
Author: Augusten Burroughs
About the Author: Burroughs was born Christopher Robison in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the younger of two sons to poet Margaret Robison and John G. Robison, former head of the philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the younger brother of fellow memoirist John Elder Robison. He was raised in Massachusetts, including the towns of Shutesbury, Amherst and Northampton. His parents divorced on July 29, 1978, when Burroughs was twelve years old, and he was adopted by his mother's psychiatrist who resided in theBurroughs dropped out of school after the sixth grade and obtained a GED at age 17. He chose his name at age 18, and legally changed it in
His books are published by St. Martin's Press and Picador. Some of his childhood experiences were chronicled in Running with Scissors (2002), which was later developed into a film.
Story Summary: A disturbing memoir of a young boy who was shuttled off to live with his mother’s psychiatrist, Running with Scissors, is a penultimate experience of dysfunctional family systems. Controversy surrounds the author’s account of his childhood and teen years which were marked with uncertainty, a mentally ill mother, a bitter divorce that included alienation from his father, and life in the bizarre home of his mother’s psychiatrist.
The reader will be amazed at the boy’s ability to survive the circumstances of his life which included his dropping out of school after 6th grade, his suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a pedophile and a psychiatrist-mediated fake suicide attempt in order to excuse him from attending school.
Although the names of his adoptive family and his own family were changed in the telling, Burroughs is now facing a lawsuit by the children of the psychiatrist who claim that his account grossly misrepresents the family.
Regardless of the controversy, Burrough’s poet-mother and his own attachment to journaling helped him succeed in a crafting a brilliantly-told story that is loaded with humor. This memoir has had a long run on the NYT’s best sellers list.
Recommendation: **** for the quality of the writing, but I caution that this story is more than a little disturbing. Graphic sexual content calls for discernment.