Daniel Solera's Reviews > Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
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Feb 07, 10

bookshelves: biography-memoir, humor

Augusten Burroughs’ memoir of early puberty into his early adulthood is a whirlwind tale full of psychotic characters and equally perturbing situations. Beginning with his mother putting him under Dr. Finch’s care, a heavily religious doctor whose methods are beyond questionable, Burroughs talks about his unconventional adolescence with as much maturity as disarming nonchalance.

The teenage Burroughs in Running With Scissors is shy, docile, deathly afraid of becoming his mother, forced to live with a capricious and unstable “family” and rapidly discovering a sexual appetite that both excites and confuses him. The themes in the book are universal despite the odd situations and colorful characters that make his story unique. If this sounds like an endorsement, please read the next paragraph.

Burroughs has been compared to David Sedaris, with a featured review on the back cover of the book explicitly making this comparison. I would agree, except that Burroughs is not funny. This book is supposedly billed as an outrageously funny story, but not once did I find myself going farther than cracking a smirk. Although he tries to make light of his awkward and often disturbing events in his memoir, the darkness or uneasiness of these situations almost always overpower any possible comedic value. It’s also a challenge to relate to any character when every single one in this book is certifiably crazy. I honestly would have felt pangs of guilt if I were to have laughed at any part of this book (am I supposed to find a heavily sexual relationship between a thirteen-year old boy and a thirty-year old man funny?).

Between the absolute lack of humor and every character’s predictable tendency to break out into self-destructive, psychotic behavior, I was unable to really enjoy this book. I’d be willing to discuss it with others in hopes of finding humor in it. But as of one reading, I wasn’t a fan.
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