In Running with Scissors, author Augusten Burroughs gives an equally hilarious and horrific tour of his nearly unbelievable world as his family disintegrates and his boyhood slides into a surreal and grotesque version of the American dream. After his mother, a delusional poet suffering from mental illness, and his alcoholic father end their chaotic marriage, Augusten's mother gives him away to be raised by her psychiatrist.
This is how, at age 12, Augusten found himself in a dilapidated Victorian in Northampton, Massachusetts, living in perfect squalor with an egomaniac doctor that was a dead-ringer for Santa Claus and a lunatic to boot. Most of Running with Scissorschronicles Augusten's teenage years spent with the psychiatrist's bizarre family that also included a few other patients. Augusten's pathos-drenched stories are seasoned with riotous, self-deprecating humor, even the sexually explicit ones where he describes his relationship with a man 20 years his senior.
In this environment, there were no rules, and there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, and Valium was eaten like Pez. When things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock therapy machine under the stairs, just waiting to be fired up.
Burroughs roles through his anecdotes with a peerless comic timing meshed with the witty, truthful observations of a child. His writing promises to have you laughing at, while simultaneously recoiling from, the horrors of his youth. Above all, Running with Scissors is an ordinary boy's survival chronicle of extraordinary circumstances. Ranging from foul and harrowing to compelling and maniacally funny, this is a rare, oddly-shaped gem shining out from the crowded memoir shelves.
Augusten's writing has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers around the world including The New York Times and New York Magazine. In 2005, Entertainment Weekly named him one of “The 25 Funniest People in America.”