I haven’t seen the film Running With Scissors. But this trailer looks similar to the book.
I’ve read the book.
Augusten Burroughs’ memoir Running with Scissors is the weirdest one I’ve read. According to this story, Burroughs had a horrific childhood. His father was a terrible alcoholic, and his troubled mother abandoned him to her psychiatrist. But it gets worse. The psychiatrist was wildly inappropriate and his household was in chaos. Burroughs was molested by the psychiatrist’s son.
What I found most disturbing, though, was Burroughs’ light rendering of this tale of his childhood.
The reviews mainly focus on this humor and how it makes such a dark tale palatable. Sometimes I found myself being taken in by this humor, but most of the time I felt odd being complicit (by reading) in making light of what Burroughs went through. It’s his choice to coat the events in that tone, but it demeans the events for other people who have gone through similar situations.
So what did I learn from reading this memoir? That you need protect yourself from being sued as much as you possibly can. Because he was. Sued. By the family that raised him (Turcotte in real life; Finch in the book).
This article tells how the lawsuit was eventually settled.
Author Augusten Burroughs and publisher St. Martin’s Press agreed to call the work a “book” instead of “memoirs,” in the author’s note — though it still will be described as a memoir on the cover and elsewhere — 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.” It will also express regret for “any unintentional harm” to them.
Here’s an article in Vanity Fair telling the point of view of the psychiatrist’s family.
In this article, you can meet Burroughs’ mother.
The more I read about this case, the more I am uncertain who to believe. The story seems fantastical to me, but what if it all really happened?
The Turcottes say Burroughs made up many events (including the name Augusten Burroughs as his real name was Chris Robison)–and that he embellished most of the rest.
I am not going to presume to be a judge and jury. All I can do is take the book on the book’s own merits. For me the tone wasn’t right for a memoir with the events and characterizations that are included in this book. But if you can get past it being a memoir and think of it as fiction, it seems more like a John Irving novel, like The World According to Garp (RIP Robin Williams). And I love John Irving novels.
Maybe I’ll watch the movie. Should I?