Running with Scissors
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Running with Scissors

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  224,470 ratings  ·  9,949 reviews
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 paedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Picador (first published July 10th 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erin
My students often practice writing their responses to the following quote "Literature opens a dark window on the soul, revealing more about what is bad in human nature than what is good." I love this quote. I believe that great literature has the power to illuminate the darkness in humanity...I think of Julius Caesar, Lord of the Flies, Heart of Darkness, Native Son, the trauma literature that I study, or even Harry Potter. But in shedding light on that darkness, these novels still seek to uplif...more
oriana
I talk about this all the time, so here, definitively, is my explanation of the four categories of memoir.

1) People who have had seriously interesting / crazy lives, and who also happen to be terrific writers, able to render their stories in a compelling, original way (like David Small's brilliant Stitches , or what I consider the gold-standard memoir, Nick Flynn's breathtaking Another Bullshit Night in Suck City ).

2) People whose lives are interesting / crazy enough that it really doesn't matt...more
Scott
She wasn't "Let's paint the kitchen red" crazy. She was full on head in the oven, toothpaste sandwich, I am God crazy..


paraphrased, but you get it..
Martin
Dec 31, 2007 Martin rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone mentally healthy enough not to be tortured by it
I found this book profoundly disturbing and torturous to read. I understand that it is cleansing and theraputic for those that have been traumitized to write/talk aobut their problems to help with the healing process. There are very few things that my ironclad stomach can't suffer and my brain is developed enough to handle even the most shocking of situations. This book tested my patience from begining to end and in the end I was very dissapointed.

First off, from reviews and the book cover I was...more
Timothy
Family settles with "Running with Scissors" author, publisher
By Rodrique Ngowi, Associated Press Writer | August 29, 2007

BOSTON --A family that claimed author Augusten Burroughs defamed them in his best-selling book "Running with Scissors" has settled a lawsuit against the author and his publisher, their attorney said Wednesday.

Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin's Press, agree to call the work a "book" instead of "memoirs," in the author's note and to change the acknowledgments page in futu...more
Jason Pettus
(Today's review is much longer than Goodreads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

I've mentioned here regularly the entire idea of there being an "underground-arts canon;" that is, that just like the academic community, what we call the modern cutting-edge arts has now been around long enough (arguably...more
Will N Van
Jul 06, 2008 Will N Van rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People with absurd, dark sensibilities.

It has been said that Truman Capote's last book, "Answered Prayers," cost him the friendship of almost everyone he knew at that time in his life, and it has even been speculated that this contributed to his demise. He had mined the personal secrets and character flaws of those around him for literary gold, and most probably embellished as brilliant authors often do. The characters were apparently easily correlated to their real-life counterparts.

And so, things haven't changed all that much. Augu...more
Tina
Jun 30, 2008 Tina rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone I don't like
Recommended to Tina by: book group
I learned, along with the rest of my reading group, that running with scissors is preferable to reading this book.
John
My brother's account of our childhood and life with the Finches
eliza
When I read this book, I was really appalled that people would classify it as a comedy, and that the makers of the film would treat it as such. I thought it was one of the most tragic things I have ever read in my life. The fact that this kid had to deal with not only his crazy parents, but an entirely crazy family is heartbreaking. And it's not just that they're quirky, like everyone seems to make them out to be, but they really are insane. And in the worst possible way. And then he gets totall...more
Alex Templeton
I was interested in reading this after getting hints of the story in Burroughs' brother's memoir "Look Me in the Eye". My honest reaction? This book made me deeply uncomfortable. Oh, I kept reading it, the same way I and everyone else would keep eyeballing a car accident, as the old cliché goes. But there was a part of me that honestly couldn't believe that all of this stuff was real. And if it was, how could Burroughs write about it almost as if it was a years-long romp? (I know I go against al...more
Annalisa
This book is supposed to be funny?! I kept waiting for the amusement as I waded through increasingly appalling characters that were not likable, interesting, or remotely relatable. Crazy and abusive is not quirky and lovable. Well I suppose there is a way to write it that way, but this is written with a tinge of bitterness. What is so amusing about royally screwing up a child's life?

Between books I'd try to get back into this story that was ok but not good enough to grab my attention. But it's a...more
Friend the Girl
Oct 16, 2007 Friend the Girl rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who think David Sedaris is too deep
I'm really not a fan of this memoir craze, and Running With Scissors is no exception. It shows potential in some parts, where the author puts down the 2x4 he was using to beat you over the head with and just tells a story. Most of the time, though, he's not-so-subtly reminding you that he had a terrible childhood, his dad hated him, his mum was crazy, he didn't have anyone, etc. Yawn. In an age where 52% of marriages end in divorce, this is everyone's story. Now it's just a pissing match to see...more
Mindy
I read this when it first came out in 2003 and was instantly smitten with Augusten Burroughs. He cracks me up! You won't believe that the things he writes about really happened, but allegedly, they did. I read something recently about the shrink's family and their denial about several things in the book. If you were them, wouldn't you try to deny it too, though? Anyway, great read, will have you laughing out loud. This is not your mother's kind of book, you've got to be young and hip and open-mi...more
Tara
This book was hilarious and horrifying, at once raucous and deeply disturbing. Burroughs writes like a man who has not entirely made peace with his madhouse childhood but has found a certain kind of solace in his off-center coping mechanisms. His anecdotes are hysterical but mingled with catharses that are simply stated and give the impression of a friendly confidence. This was Burroughs' biggest claim-to-fame book, quite possibly because of the sheer shock value compared with his other novels [...more
Stephanie
Aug 21, 2007 Stephanie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any old person
I have to warm you that I am going to give a spoiler here, the spoiler I happened upon as I had just begun reading this book and was just hooked enough by the descriptive style of writing and interesting content that I wanted to continue regardless. However, the spoiler ultimately affected my experience of the book and may affect yours as well. So don't read this, unless you've already read the book.
The family that "Augusten Burroughs" focuses most of his memoir around are suing him. They say th...more
Aces
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellen


Leo Tolstoy writes, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”


I’ve always read “happy families” in that quotation as meaning normal families, and assumed by its positioning that normal, happy families were more prevalent. I wonder. Tolstoy’s dichotomy seems simplistic. I’m not sure I know any family that is routinely happy or normal. My parents and brother always ensured I’d win any “crazy family” contest hands down, but even the ostensibly “happy” families I...more
K.
I know the family, I know the ego-crazed and self-indulgent overgrown baby who wrote this book, and I find it not only sloppily written but vicious and hate-filled. It's a mother-bashing, lesbian-bashing, lying heap of crap. You can see I am worked up about it. I wouldn't mind if it were called a novel (which it is). I only object to its being called a "memoir." Read instead Jackie Leyden's beautiful hymn to the mixed blessings of growing up with a mother who had bipolar disorder, DAUGHTER OF TH...more
Paula
Alternatve Title: Stabbing Yourself with Scissors

I've always looked at this book, picked it up, and put it back down. I was wary because it seemed like something Sedaris would write, and I really hate Sedaris. Also, look at the cover. Always judge books by covers! It's in sepia-uh oh, you know it's a memoir. And he's got a box on his head-he must be crazy! Still, I'd heard people liked it, so when I came across it in my local used bookstore, I thought I'd give it a try.

I got through 20 pages. Ma...more
Larry
Sep 05, 2007 Larry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
I loved this book a lot. I am not sure that I buy that all that could have happened to one chid in one lifetime but looking at my own life it could be possible i guess. The book is a lot better than the movie but they both have their redeeming qualities.
I think that he is a great story teller and this is evident in his other books too.
Felicia
I love this book. The abysmal movie that was made of it was a travesty, because this book...I relate to the crazy family part, that's all I'm saying about it :)
Pixie
Nov 01, 2007 Pixie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
I quit reading this book halfway through. Like I read in another review, he's a bit of a David Sedaris wannabe. There's sort of a dark, absurd humor going on. I think he thinks he's being "light" by treating the subject matter "lightly," and sometimes it works. (I actually love David Sedaris, by the way, but I prefer listening to him over reading him.). As opposed to Mr. Sedaris, this guy gets really vulgar, offensive, and disgusting. It's all in the name of "art" I suppose, but I'm pretty toler...more
Jennifer
Running with Scissors was the first book I read by Augusten Burroughs and it's the only one I ever like. Most of his books strike me as self-indulgent whining. The general theme of each is that he's strange and therefore his life has been hard. It's everyone's fault but his own.

In Running with Scissors, Burroughs tells of his thoroughly bizarre childhood. His mother and father are both shown to be as strange as he is, but in this book he presents it as just the way things were. I never had the f...more
K.D. Absolutely
Augusten Burroughs (born 1965 in Pittsburg as Christopher Robison) was named in 2005 as one, ranked 15, of “The 25 Funniest People in America” by Entertainment Weekly, People and The Guardian.

This memoir of his gay boyhood, “Running With Scissors” came out in 2003. On the same year, Burroughs came out with “Dry” about his experience being alcoholic and “Magical Thinking” a collection of memoir essays. I am not sure if any of these works made him funny to the American people but I guess it must b...more
Keely
Boring Prose sprinkled with the kind of sensationalism that can only come from a man with the hubris to change his name from Chris Robinson to Augusten Xon Burroughs.

I wanted this to be a one-sentence review, because that's all it deserves, but I just can't: XON!!!??? FUCKING XON!!!???? WHERE IS MY GODDAMN INTERROBANG!!!!????? JUST CALL YOURSELF XENU FOR SHIT'S SAKE. CHRISTING FUCKBELLY TURDSQUABBLE.
Moriah
Augusten Burroughs had an unusual childhood. His mother was mentally ill, his father was a drunk and left her. He knew he was gay around the age of 12 and had a relationship with a guy in his late 20s.
Later in the book, his mother decided she couldn't raise him anymore and wanted to focus only on her art (writing poems), so she gave him up for adoption - to her psychiatrist. And the psychiatrist? - He himself isn't entirely sane.

Augusten talks about all the things that happened to him at the Doc...more
Tina
Jun 17, 2007 Tina rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
I'm more than halfway through this, and I find myself liking it and hating it at the same time. Like, it's really interesting and funny and horrifying, and I want to be reading it, but as I'm reading it I'm mad at it for being such a ripoff of David Sedaris. What, can only gay men with screwed up childhoods write memoirs now? And even though it is funny and interesting, I definitely don't think he's on the same level as Sedaris -- this book isn't nearly as funny or poignant. And like I said, it...more
Carmen
Burroughs is a good author, but this book made me sick to my stomach.

This book is about Burroughs childhood. He lives with his crazy mother and alcoholic father until he's ten. Then his mom moves him in with her crazy psychologist. They live in squalor.

I can't even describe to you all the horrible things that go on in this book. A lot of pedophilia. When Burroughs is 13 his 33-year-old stepbrother starts having sex with him. His step-sister, Natalie, gives her first blowjob at age 11 and is sol...more
Verna
A fascinating book. It is not your typical memoir and not for the fainthearted. I saw the movie first and decided I must read the book since the film was a little confusing. I was not offended by the explicit subject matter, but found some of the descriptions of sexual abuse hard going. However, I felt most of the incidents rang true and authentic. The author obviously is using humor to deflect the pain of such a dysfunctional childhood. Burroughs talks mostly about his traumatic experiences wit...more
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readers who run: Please check out my running humor book 2 19 Mar 05, 2014 10:26PM  
Book is Great 10 83 Aug 29, 2013 07:17AM  
Thumbs down 30 272 Mar 27, 2013 06:00AM  
ABUSED(genre) BOOKS: Running with Scissors 2 24 Mar 16, 2013 09:33AM  
loved this book 9 67 Jan 02, 2013 02:56PM  
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Augusten Burroughs born Christopher Robison, son of poet and writer Margaret Robison and younger brother of John Elder Robison.

Burroughs has no formal education beyond elementary school. A very successful advertising copywriter for over seventeen years, he was also an alcoholic who nearly drank himself to death in 1999. But spurned by a compulsion he did not understand, Burroughs began to write a...more
More about Augusten Burroughs...
Dry Magical Thinking: True Stories Possible Side Effects A Wolf at the Table Sellevision

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“I know exactly how that is. To love somebody who doesn’t deserve it. Because they are all you have. Because any attention is better than no attention. For exactly the same reason, it is sometimes satisfying to cut yourself and bleed. On those gray days where eight in the morning looks no different from noon and nothing has happened and nothing is going to happen and you are washing a glass in the sink and it breaks-accidentally-and punctures your skin. And then there is this shocking red, the brightest thing in the day, so vibrant it buzzes, this blood of yours. That is okay sometimes because at least you know you’re alive.” 688 likes
“It’s a wonder I’m even alive. Sometimes I think that. I think that I can’t believe I haven’t killed myself. But there’s something in me that just keeps going on. I think it has something to do with tomorrow, that there is always one, and that everything can change when it comes.” 317 likes
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