Customer Reviews for

Running with Scissors: A Memoir

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Crazy and Inspirational at the same time

By the age of twelve, Augusten's parents had disintegrated in a mess of alcoholism and delusional psychosis, leaving him with a sense of isolation he is unable to shake. Already school-phobic, he wraps himself in a cocoon of comforting television images and Hollywood fa...
By the age of twelve, Augusten's parents had disintegrated in a mess of alcoholism and delusional psychosis, leaving him with a sense of isolation he is unable to shake. Already school-phobic, he wraps himself in a cocoon of comforting television images and Hollywood fantasies from the late 1970's. When in the course of his mother's treatment Augusten finds himself living with her psychiatrist and his large disorganized family, his struggle for perspective begins. Both disturbing and hilarious at the same time, Burroughs describes the consolation and distress of living in a world where squalor and chaos is so pervasive that it eventually becomes normal. The crux of Augusten's plight is assimilation: to remain in the family and fully integrate their dysfunction into his own life, or to leave and regain control over his future. This is a coming out story of a different kind; while his sexuality is a secondary issue, Augusten still must "come out" and back into functional society.

Burroughs does a fantastic job describing characters in detail rich enough that the reader immediately acquires intuition with regard to their motives. Because of this, it is easy to understand that these are not simply eccentric people. To see them that way would trivialize the challenge the young Augusten faces. Most poignant was his wildly inappropriate sexual relationship with a man twice his age. Augusten suffers endless losses; his parent's marriage, his mother's sanity, the companionship of his surrogate family, but the realization that his "boyfriend" was gone, leaves him feeling emotionally empty and truly abandoned.

"Running with Scissors" never seems whiny because Burroughs never lapses into lamentations about another, better life he could have had. When the inevitable comparison does arise, he shrugs it off without a trace of self-pity. Thankfully, there are no self-help references in this book, no mention of the dreaded "recovery" process, and no maudlin scenes describing reconciliation. As a memoir, the narrative can be tricky in places when Burroughs bounces back and forth without chronological markers. In addition, there are a few tertiary characters that come and go, and keeping track of them can be difficult. However, neither of these detracts from the overall effect of the story.

I finished this wonderful book and admittedly, shed a few tears after the epilogue. Though I think most people will not understand the fragility and isolation of growing up gay, I hope everyone who reads this book will sympathize with the strength of character therein. I thoroughly enjoyed "Running with Scissors" and highly recommend it. If you like this book, you will definitely enjoy Lac Su's memoir, "I Love Yous Are For White People." I'm recommending it here.

posted by Steve11 on August 17, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Not for Children

The only word I can think of to describe this book would be painful. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of eighteen. It is very graphic and mostly disturbing. If you are someone who enjoys reading about how messed up a boys life can be then this ...
The only word I can think of to describe this book would be painful. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of eighteen. It is very graphic and mostly disturbing. If you are someone who enjoys reading about how messed up a boys life can be then this is a book for you. Augusten went through quite a rough patch from age nine to seventeen. His parents got divorced and neither the mother nor father were mature enough to raise a child. They each had quite a number of problems. The father was an alcoholic and had not a care in the world besides himself. The mother was nothing short of insane. However he seems to luck out and find help from his mothers psychiatrist and finds a sense of family from him. As he tries to understand who he really is he realizes he is gay. Augusten had a very troubling past but seems to have emerged from it confident in his life to come. Anyone who can deal with all that has earned my respect. However I am indifferent on how I feel about this book because it is so disturbing. I had a hard time comprehending how anyone could bear to even live through all he did much less write a book about it. I feel terrible for this young boy, his childhood was nothing short of torture. I also do not understand how this book could be a comedy, a thirteen year old being raped by a thirty three year old is not what I would consider funny. There is some sarcasm throughout the book but I was to disturbed by what was happening to laugh. This was not my kind of book mostly because I usually like more action packed thrillers but it was interesting to say the least. The only thing I took from this book was that no matter what happens in life, when the chips fall you can only control your reaction and make sure it doesn't happen to you.

posted by 1069401 on March 25, 2009

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Crazy and Inspirational at the same time

    By the age of twelve, Augusten's parents had disintegrated in a mess of alcoholism and delusional psychosis, leaving him with a sense of isolation he is unable to shake. Already school-phobic, he wraps himself in a cocoon of comforting television images and Hollywood fantasies from the late 1970's. When in the course of his mother's treatment Augusten finds himself living with her psychiatrist and his large disorganized family, his struggle for perspective begins. Both disturbing and hilarious at the same time, Burroughs describes the consolation and distress of living in a world where squalor and chaos is so pervasive that it eventually becomes normal. The crux of Augusten's plight is assimilation: to remain in the family and fully integrate their dysfunction into his own life, or to leave and regain control over his future. This is a coming out story of a different kind; while his sexuality is a secondary issue, Augusten still must "come out" and back into functional society.

    Burroughs does a fantastic job describing characters in detail rich enough that the reader immediately acquires intuition with regard to their motives. Because of this, it is easy to understand that these are not simply eccentric people. To see them that way would trivialize the challenge the young Augusten faces. Most poignant was his wildly inappropriate sexual relationship with a man twice his age. Augusten suffers endless losses; his parent's marriage, his mother's sanity, the companionship of his surrogate family, but the realization that his "boyfriend" was gone, leaves him feeling emotionally empty and truly abandoned.

    "Running with Scissors" never seems whiny because Burroughs never lapses into lamentations about another, better life he could have had. When the inevitable comparison does arise, he shrugs it off without a trace of self-pity. Thankfully, there are no self-help references in this book, no mention of the dreaded "recovery" process, and no maudlin scenes describing reconciliation. As a memoir, the narrative can be tricky in places when Burroughs bounces back and forth without chronological markers. In addition, there are a few tertiary characters that come and go, and keeping track of them can be difficult. However, neither of these detracts from the overall effect of the story.

    I finished this wonderful book and admittedly, shed a few tears after the epilogue. Though I think most people will not understand the fragility and isolation of growing up gay, I hope everyone who reads this book will sympathize with the strength of character therein. I thoroughly enjoyed "Running with Scissors" and highly recommend it. If you like this book, you will definitely enjoy Lac Su's memoir, "I Love Yous Are For White People." I'm recommending it here.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2008

    My favorite book ever

    This book pulled me in the minute I started reading. It's so hilarious, you can't help but to want to know what else he's going to say. Eventually, the book becomes more serious dealing with more mature matter. However, it still ties in the humor Burroughs naturally brings into all of his book. I actually feel like I lived through what he has. It's been two days and with my busy schedule, I've managed to read over 250 pages already. It's almost ridiculous and unbelievable, but the obscurity is what makes it so interesting. I wouldn't reccomend this book to anyone under 15 as it deals with very mature things. I promise this story won't let you down, it'll will only leave you wanting more

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Extremely entertaining

    The author manages to make you laugh at a sad story with his quick wit and sharp tongue. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. The imagery was so clear and distinctive, the entire book played through my head like a movie. This book does, however, contain semi-graphic sex scenes between the author and an older man, so if you're offended by such, I suggest you read something else.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012

    Wow.

    One of the most intense books I think I've ever read. Slightly disturbing, but you can't stop reading it. I, personally, really enjoyed it. Very funny at times, and demanding your attention the whole way through. If you want a book that's not like any other you've ever read, and you're open minded, this is definitely for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful Writing

    I loved this book! Augusten pulls you in RIGHT AWAY! I first read Possible Side Effects. Now I want to read EVERYTHING that he has written.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    Dark yet superb

    Just love this author!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    Loved it!!!

    He doesn't hold back or try to sugarcoat anything. He is a brilliant author. Read his other books and you will agree. He is my favorite author! Hurry and buy his other books, you will be hooked in no time!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    This will make you think

    When I first picked up this book I did not know what to expect. The way the author portrays his characters is magnificent. You feel as if you have a great understanding of them. The plots deals with young Augusten Burroughs at the age of 12, his mentally ill mother sends him away to live with her doctor. Augusten has to go through a very weird child hood, for his mom is too ill to help him and his deadbeat dad does not support him. I love this book because the author makes you laugh and also makes you think about life choices. This book has a weird way of making you laugh, and making you think about your life. By taking a look on how Augusten grows up it makes you think about how much fun and interesting life can be. Running with scissors also has its disturbing parts but it wouldn't be such a great book with out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Different

    I normally don't get a chance to read for enjoyment (usually for research), but when a friend recommended "Running with Scissors" and after reading the reviews I had to make time. I am sure glad I did. It was unlike any book I have ever read before. The people around me, while I was reading it, said they wanted to read it when I was done.
    You will become absorbed from the moment when you pick it up for the first time.
    Great reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2009

    It's a laugh

    I seen the movie before I read the book and I think that they are both equally great. Running With Scissors is a non-stop laugh. I think it had just the right amount of everything to keep you itching to read what's on the next page. I personally didn't want to put the book down once I started reading it! Reading about people's lives usually aren't too interesting or entertaining but with Augusten Burroughs life you could never predict what was going to happen next because everything that happened in his child hood was so bizarre. From making sure every strand of hair was perfect and the creases on his clothes were sharp and fresh looking to wearing his hair down and dirty clothes. All in all I think this is a great book and if you're looking for a laugh and maybe a tear or two this is definitely a book I would recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Did that just happen?!

    Gross, touching, and down right hilarious! If you're under the age of 14, this book may be a little mature for you. Burroughs childhood was indescribable. In some parts you wonder if he's lying because what happens in this book seems to be too ridiculous to actually happen. But then you realize, you can't make this stuff up! <BR/>If you thought your childhood-teenage years were crazy, you may think otherwise after you read Running With Scissors.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Such a dysfunctional life makes for such an excellent story and

    Such a dysfunctional life makes for such an excellent story and so well writtem

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2014

    The story is about a teenage boy who is sent to ...

    The s tory is about a tenage boy who is sent to his mothers psychiatrist's house because his mother is delusional. The mother's psychiatrits has two daughters. One of the daughters finds out that he is gau and hooks him up with her cousin who is also a homosexual. The mother soon puts Augusten (the boy) in possesion of her doctor legally. Augustens boyfriend id his cousinand hus mother finnally becomes fully insane and the boyfriend/cousin tries to kill his uncle. Earlier in the story the father/doctor poops and his feces is pointing "up to god as n omen of good health

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014

    HOPE IT GETS BETTER

    When I finished(Look Me In The Eye)which I did actually have eposiodes of laughing out loud I couldn't wait to get my hands on one of"Varmint's"booksI was so delighted to see that there were numerous ones to pick through.In fact there were so many to pick through I decided to read some reviews from each book.Hands down it was a toss up between Dry and Running With Scissors.Well as you see it was the latter.I'm only on page 46 now and I am actually rather bored with it.Maybe because I have LMITE to compare it with.I think it was the innocence maybe and because of the Asperger that it was like John Elder wasn't trying to be funny which made it funny.Does that make sense?If someone is out there which might have had a similer situation let me know and to remind you that I've only read 46pgs.,does it get any better?It would be much appriciated.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Granny B.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Love

    Amazing

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    Loved it!

    Amazing!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013

    Is it?

    A merry go round?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2013

    How smart you are to figure that out

    When your down im up<br>
    When yore up im down<br>
    Untill our dance is over<br>
    I go round and round.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 20, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing Book!

    Amazing Book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2013

    Wonderful

    Do not make the mistake of ignoring this book! It will leave you wanting more, more, more. And the author, his brother and their mother will provide you with several more books...all fascinating. What a delicious family!

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