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Running with Scissors

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  327,702 ratings  ·  12,138 reviews
The true story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment.

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 ps
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Picador USA (first published July 10th 2002)
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Maria Stevenson Yes, one, the other, both or some other disorder, but definitely something in the mental illness spectrum. I also notice that in that era (Augusten…moreYes, one, the other, both or some other disorder, but definitely something in the mental illness spectrum. I also notice that in that era (Augusten was born around the same time as me) back in the 50s, 60s and 70s and breaking through to the "Me" generation of the 80s, despite the hippy movement people were incredibly ego-driven and had not, perhaps, had as much exposure to what we might call "new age" ideas, and I don't mean in a totally navel-gazing way but more, "We are all connected, all molecules and the entire universe." (less)

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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  327,702 ratings  ·  12,138 reviews


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Oriana
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 ma
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Martin
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
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Scott
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..
Fabian
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book in about four hours. & maybe 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 tru
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Tina
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.
Carol
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

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Timothy
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
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Michael
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 [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
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Will Byrnes
Feb 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
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
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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
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Rebecca McNutt
Where to begin with Running With Scissors? I had read it way back in the 10th grade and disliked it, but decided to go back and try to re-read it to see if I'd missed something. What's worse? The lawsuit against Burroughs from the "Finch" Family, especially "Natalie", who never wanted her private domestic and sexual abuse revealed to the public? Some friend Augusten Burroughs is! Or maybe it's simply how vulgar and totally random he is as a writer. No, it's really not necessary (and I suspect no ...more
eliza
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
John
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My brother's account of our childhood and life with the Finches
Annalisa
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
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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
Luís C.
In his diary, the young Augusten a little gay and very stuck tells his arrival in the mad house Finch, that of his mother's psychologist and just as crazy!

Burroughs is certainly good at writing American series scripts with humor and imagination ... It's nice but I regret that this factory with heavy gags erases all the sensitivity of the first part.

(You will see everything you can imagine worse in a psychiatric hospital, boring kids on the carpet, scraping dandruff, ... and he outbid with blowjo
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Felicia
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 :)
K.
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
Tara
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
Mindy
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
Stephanie
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
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Carmen
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
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Lyn
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
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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.
Ellen
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
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Angie
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elyse Walters
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Read this when it first came out ---GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The movie: They trashed the book!
Bill
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok

I won this copy of Running with Scissors in a Goodreads Giveaway. This is my fair and honest review!

2.5/5.0 Stars

Okay I’ve procrastinated long enough on this one. I really, really wanted to love this book but, despite all the rave reviews and critical acclaim, I just didn’t feel it. Please don’t hate me all you Augusten Burroughs fans out there. This book confused the heck out of me and I simply could not get past the pedophilia.

Confused? You bet! This is a memoir about some pretty serious and
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Don
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
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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
“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.” 389 likes
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