Loyd's Reviews > Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
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's review
Mar 01, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: humor
Read in February, 2010

It's a black humor romp in a kind of Addams Family, Arsenic and Old Lace vein. Except it really happened. As Mortimer Brewster says in Arsenic, "Madness runs in my family. It practically gallops."

This book really vexed and perplexed me. I read it because I'm a fan of David Sedaris and I've often heard Burroughs' book compared to him. But even though the writing is hilarious in places (and it is), the overall sense of depression I got from reading the book almost made me give it two stars. It's a memoir (although I have to believe--I pray--that it's wildly exaggerated), and the thought of the events actually happening to a thirteen-year-old boy, even one as worldly as Burroughs, left me needing a shower.

In brief: Burroughs was raised by a mother that was a mixture of Sylvia Plath and Blanche DuBois, with a little Courtney Love thrown in, and an incredibly cold father who didn't seem to relate to anyone. With no warning, at age thirteen Burroughs was given to the family psychiatrist, who resembles Santa Claus, to become his ward. The "doctor" was obviously deranged himself, and introduced Burroughs to another of his wards, a gay man twenty years older, who introduced the boy to sex. The madhouse of the psychiatrist's family and patients provide the "humor," but whenever I picture the "true events" happening to someone about the same age as my own granddaughter, I shiver.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Edwards Hi Loyd,

I had the same issue with this book. The dark humor could not offset the depressing tone. Burroughs tries valiantly to act as if the occurrences in the book are not truly heinous, but merely bizarre. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism, but reading this book just made me truly sad.

Loyd Nice to know I'm not alone on this. Thanks for the comment.

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