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Running with Scissors

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  373,768 ratings  ·  12,862 reviews
Running with Scissors is 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 pedophile who resided in the backya ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Picador USA (first published July 10th 2002)
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Mimi Yes, I am not an expert on this, but clearly the world revolved around her, not her son. She never put him first, very symptomatic of a self absorbed …moreYes, I am not an expert on this, but clearly the world revolved around her, not her son. She never put him first, very symptomatic of a self absorbed narcissist.(less)
Elise I think that Natalie and Augusten were the only sane people in that house, in his world, and so they gravitated toward each other. Their quirks and we…moreI think that Natalie and Augusten were the only sane people in that house, in his world, and so they gravitated toward each other. Their quirks and weirdnesses were more a product of their environment, whereas the doctor and Hope and most of the others had some serious mental illnesses. They were too sane for the family and too strange for the outside world, so they had each other.(less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  373,768 ratings  ·  12,862 reviews

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Jul 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2007
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 matter
Dec 31, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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..
Jun 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book in about four hours. & perhaps that's as good an encapsulation for the experience as I can give.

I like the eccentric, non-plot-driven memoir that sounds too strange to be true... and because it exists, because it ACTUALLY happened (unlike you, James Frey!!), it merits thoughts about American families in addition to the ironies of self-obsessed psychologies.

Written in cute concise prose, even if some jokes do not actually make you laugh but sicken you to the point of feeling trul
Will Byrnes
Burroughs offers a book that is supposedly a memoir. If so, then truth is definitely stranger than fiction. Let’s say I am skeptical. If you thought you had a tough adolescence a look at Burroughs’ tale will put your experience into a little perspective.

He grew up in western Massachusetts to a mother who was probably bi-polar, in what seems like ground zero for inappropriate behavior. She was seeing a peculiar psychiatrist who had a fondness for having patients come to live at his home, a chaot
After digesting for over a month now, I still feel this autobiography-memoir beyond bizarre and belief....Can all of it really be true?

Can I believe the doctor depict herein holds a medical degree from one of the most prestigious universities in America, i.e.....Yale? Hmmmmm....pretty hard to believe, and disheartening too.

Anyway, it's the 1970's and all hell breaks loose when 12 year old Augusten's disturbed poetry writing mother and alcoholic father divorce and mother dear ultimately sends him

Aug 29, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Frenetic and sensational, Running with Scissors explores what it means to endure a dysfunctional childhood. Over the course of dozens of fast-paced vignettes, Augusten Burroughs recounts his unconventional upbringing: his parents divorced, his mother granted legal custody of her gay son to her eccentric psychiatrist, a 33-year-old pedophile living nearby soon started to prey on him. Burroughs recollects traumatic event after traumatic event, but a perverse kind of humor pervades the narrative, w ...more
Jason Pettus
Jun 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
(Today's review is much longer than Goodreads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. 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
Will N Van
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My brother's account of our childhood and life with the Finches ...more
Apr 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Alex Templeton
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Funny and very well written.

The graphic homosexual sex scenes will be too much for some readers but were contextually relevant. I have tried since reading this to understand Burroughs' quirky, angst obsessive postmodernist world view, and perhaps he cannot put a definite label on it either, but then on the other hand, Burroughs' may be one of those special writers whose opinions and style rightly fit into the "other" category of literary genres and upon which a label does not easily apply.

For t
Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 :) ...more
Sep 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Elyse  Walters
Read this when it first came out ---GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The movie: They trashed the book!
Mar 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
J.G. 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.
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I began this memoir only knowing that it was controversial -- some of the people depicted in these pages claim that Burroughs greatly embellished past events, while Burroughs himself maintains the book's veracity. After doing some online research, I still can't determine who's telling the truth here, and so I can only judge the book's literary merit.

And in that regard I have to say that Running with Scissors lives up to its hype. Burroughs' prose is crisp, his descriptions memorable -- e.g., "M
Diane in Australia
I didn't like this book. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for victims of child abuse speaking out against their abusers. I was abused. I know many others who were abused, too. But ... the foster family, the Turcottes, sued Burroughs, and his publisher, St. Martin’s, for the way the book portrayed them. The case was settled out of court, with both sides claiming 'victory', of a sorts. So, who really knows?
"Running With Scissors" lawsuit is settled

Let me just say, I threw this book in the trash. I don'
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was ok

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
Katy Kennedy
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read a lot of books I didn't finish this year, but I want to give myself credit for a few of those, because my incomplete 2020 reading resolution feels so very disheartening.

I didn't finish the last two chapters of Running with Scissors, because my audiobook loan expired and then my commute stopped due to my job stopping due to 2020, and then I never renewed. Typical for me, but I'm blaming it on this shit year.

Immensely entertaining. Marketed as memoir but so outlandish that it must have been
Oct 28, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
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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

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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.” 862 likes
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