Dec 06 2006
The family depicted in Augusten Burrough's Running with Scissors, his 2002 memoir of a hyper-dysfunctional childhood, is telling its side of the story for the first time publicly in Vanity Fair in January (out next week). Members of the Turcotte family (called the Finches in Burrough's book) filed a defamation suit against Burroughs, his publisher, agent and editor in a Massachusetts court in 2005 that is still pending. The suit raises broad questions about the ethical responsibilities of publishers. claim that "the author, with the full complicity of the publisher, literally has fabricated events that never happened and manufactured controversy that never occurred."
The Turcottes claim in their court case and in the Vanity Fair article that the book not only included harmful inaccuracies and embellishments, but also failed to effectively conceal the family's identity. Quoting the suit, Buss Bissinger (author of the article) writes that "the author, with the full complicity of the publisher, literally has fabricated events that never happened and manufactured controversy that never occurred."
Bissinger told Publishers Weekly that it's ultimately a case of "he said, they said" for the court to settle. The larger question is whether publishers and writers have a moral obligation to inform people that they're going to be depicted in a book. The Turcottes say they didn't know about the book until after it was published.
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