Running with Scissors (Paperback)
Picador, 9780312422271, 336pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2003
The #1 New York Times Bestseller
An Entertainment Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year
Now a Major Motion Picture
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.
Running with Scissors Acknowledgments
Gratitude doesn't begin to describe it: Jennifer Enderlin, Christopher Schelling, John Murphy, Gregg Sullivan, Kim Cardascia, Michael Storrings, and everyone at St. Martin's Press. Thank you: Lawrence David, Suzanne Finnamore, Robert Rodi, Bret Easton Ellis, Jon Pepoon, Lee Lodes, Jeff Soares, Kevin Weidenbacher, Lynda Pearson, Lona Walburn, Lori Greenburg, John DePretis, and Sheila Cobb. I would also like to express my appreciation to my mother and father for, no matter how inadvertently, giving me such a memorable childhood. Additionally, I would like to thank the real-life members of the family portrayed in this book for taking me into their home and accepting me as one of their own. I recognize that their memories of the events described in this book are different than my own. They are each fine, decent, and hard-working people. The book was not intended to hurt the family. Both my publisher and I regret any unintentional harm resulting from the publishing and marketing of Running with Scissors. Most of all, I would like to thank my brother for demonstrating, by example, the importance of being wholly unique.
About the Author
Praise For Running with Scissors: A Memoir…
“I just finished reading the most amazing book. Running with Scissors is hilarious, freaky-deaky, berserk, controlled, transcendent, touching, affectionate, vengeful, all-embracing....It makes a good run at blowing every other [memoir] out of the water.” —Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“Funny and rich with child's eye details of adults who have gone off the rails.” —The New York Times Book Review
“It is as funny as it is twisted.” —GQ
“A hilarious and horrifying memoir.” —Los Angeles Times
“Harrowing and hilarious. I haven't laughed this much since David Sedaris's last book.” —Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy
“Running with Scissors is a cut above...compelling...the book celebrates Burroughs' resilient, upbeat spirit, which helps him surmount one of the weirder childhoods on record.” —USA Today
“The anecdotes can be so flippant, and so insanely funny (quite literally), that the effect is that of a William Burroughs situation comedy.” —The New York Times
“Burroughs defies the ‘woe is me' stigma of modern memoir with a raucous recounting of his loony teenage years.” —Entertainment Weekly
“I was reminded of Roald Dahl's Boy and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Augusten Burroughs has produced a memoir that's funny and sharp but also humane, as charming as it is revealing.” —Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century
“A memoir that is both horrifying and mordantly funny.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Burroughs has memorialized his bizarre childhood showing off a dark wit that often rivals that 0of David Sedaris--while telling a true story that would make even Sedaris cringe.” —New York Magazine
“Burroughs tempers the pathos with sharp riotous humor... Edgier, but reminiscent of Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, this is a survival story readers won't forget.” —Booklist
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- What sort of person does Augusten’s mother Deidre initially appear to be? Does your impression of her change throughout Running with Scissors? Does Augusten’s? How?
- Why does Deidre leave Augusten with Dr. Finch? Did she do the right thing? With whom would Augusten have been better off? Why? What would you have done if you were left with the Finch family?
- Augusten initially likes Dr. Finch. Do his feelings toward him change? Why? Is Dr. Finch eccentric or crazy? What’s the difference?
- Augusten sees much of his life in the context of television shows and commercials. Which television shows and commercials were influential to you while growing up? If you had to pick a television show—drama, comedy, or variety series—that best described your own life, which one would it be?
- The Finch family lives accustomed to chaos and filth. Do you think it’s possible to get used to anything after a while? Explain. Are their things about your way life that might seem strange to other people or other cultures? Have you ever had to adjust to a situation that initially seemed foreign or disturbing to you? Explain.
- On page 69, Augusten writes, “It was one thing to be gay. But it was something else altogether to seem gay.” What do you think he means? Which seems gayer to you: Rock Hudson, Liberace, or metrosexuals? Explain.
- Augusten writes that “Finch believed that anger was the crux of mental illness” (p. 98). Do you agree with the doctor? Why? Who in Running with Scissors seems genuinely mentally ill? Why?
- Should Hope be charged with animal cruelty because of her treatment of the cat? Should Augusten and the other Finches be charged as accomplices?
- Why do you think Natalie and Augusten become best friends? What pulls them apart? Do you believe Deidre’s finally accusation? Explain.
- What do you think happened to Neil Bookman? From what you know about him and the 1970s, make up your own epilogue for Neil.
- Dr. Finch believes that children should choose their own parents. Do you agree? Who does Augusten eventually choose? Did he make the right decision? Why? Are their any circumstances under which a child should disown his or her family? Explain.
- Do you see Running with Scissors as a comic or horror story? Both? Explain.