Summary and book reviews of Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors

A Memoir

by Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2002, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2003, 320 pages

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Book Summary

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 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 backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

See also "Settlement reached in Running with Scissors suit" news story, 8/31/2007.

Excerpt
Running with Scissors

My mother is standing in front of the bathroom mirror smelling polished and ready; like Jean Nate, Dippity Do and the waxy sweetness of lipstick. Her white, handgun-shaped blow-dryer is lying on top of the wicker clothes hamper, ticking as it cools. She stands back and smoothes her hands down the front of her swirling, psychedelic Pucci dress, biting the inside of her cheek.

"Damn it," she says, "something isn't right."

Yesterday she went to the fancy Chopping Block salon in Amherst with its bubble skylights and ficus trees in chrome planters. Sebastian gave her a shag.

"That hateful Jane Fonda," she says, fluffing her dark brown hair at the crown. "She makes it look so easy." She pinches her sideburns into points that accentuate her cheekbones.

People have always said she looks like a young Lauren Bacall, especially in the eyes.

I can't stop staring at her feet, which she has slipped into treacherously tall red patent-leather pumps. ...

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Summary
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 psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa, and a lunatic in the bargain. Suddenly, at age twelve, Augusten found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian in perfect squalor. The doctor’s bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules; there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, the Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock-therapy machine under the stairs...


Discusion Questions
  1. Author Augusten Burroughs was raised by his mother&#...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Out Now

This is an American Grotesque...that the tale is true only adds to the hilarity--and the horror.

Library Journal

Burroughs has written an entertaining yet horrifying account that isn't for the squeamish: the scatological content and explicit homosexual episodes may limit its appeal.

Publishers Weekly

Beautifully written with a finely tuned sense of style and with the occasional cliche.

Booklist

Burroughs tempers the pathos with sharp, riotous humor in stories that are self-deprecating, raunchy, sexually explicit.... scatological, grotesque, and deeply affecting.

Author Blurb David Rakoff, author of Fraud
Simultaneously hilarious and horrific.

Reader Reviews

Olivia A.

Running With Scissors
This book is an awesome, exciting read and ridiculously funny. You never know what's going to happen next. It's a must read.

Kristine1975

Amazing read
Augusten Burroughs has recently become one of my very favourites! Running with scissors is absolutely amazing.I wasn't able to put it down.Hes a wonderful author and I'm thankful he decided to share his life with us. You'll fall on the floor when u ...   Read More

Jen

Shocking and Touching
I'll admit, there were chapters that made me feel almost violated because they were so grotesque. But these things happened to him...funny or appalling, things like this happen to people every day, usually not in this amount. The things that happened...   Read More

Denise (Trinidad)

Disgusting!
This is the most disgusting book I've ever read. It is very difficult to see the humour in it. The only reason I continued reading was because it is supposed to be true of someone's life. If it really describes the author's childhood, I honestly do...   Read More

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