Review of 'Running with Scissors'

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

running_with_scissors.jpg “Running with Scissors” is a memoir of the author “Augusten Burroughs” telling the bizarre story of his early life first living with his psychotic poet mother following his father's departure. He then moves in with his mother's psychiatrist's family where things go from odd to bizarre very quickly with Dr Finch's very laissez-faire attitude towards parenting and home care. Dr Finch believed strongly in self expression allowing his children to run amok, doing whatever they wished including not attending school, smoking, drinking, and sex. This very much opens the eyes of the teenage Augusten who struggles to find a path to follow when there are so many paths now open to him. It also affords him the opportunity to finally explore his perceived sexuality as a gay young man (in several scenes that I have to admit I found quite difficult to read).

This story is so incredible I find it hard to believe it is true. The write-ups on the cover in on the first few pages suggest this is a magnificent piece of comedic genius but I have to say I found it more disturbing than funny though the occasional laugh did escape when reading. The comedy is very much in what extraordinary event would come next such as removal of the floor above the kitchen by Augusten and one of the Finch children to let in more light…including hacking into the roof structure above. It is amazing to also read of the unusual beliefs of Dr Finch both professionally and personally as he moves from one chaotic scene to the next, taking advantage of his position and exploring dubious theories (the final pages mention what happened to him – no surprises there).

At it's heart, “Running with Scissors” is about a young man coming to terms with life and in this, a chaotic lifestyle very much helps him to do so: How would we turn out if there were no limits to what we were allowed to do as a child? The answer here seems to be that we would drink, smoke and watch TV a lot. An interesting if more than slightly disturbing read with the lots of absurdity thrown in.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2022-04-18

Genre: Autobiography

Publisher: Atlantic Books

Publication Date: 2002

ISBN: 1843541513